Real Madrid's six keys to LaLiga success
Nine games and nine wins for Real Madrid since the return of LaLiga as they look to seal the title very soon. Here are the six keys to their incredible run of form.
"I'm sure that Madrid will not win all of their games," said Quique Setién after Barcelona drew with Sevilla and lost their grip at the top of LaLiga. Since the break, Madrid are perfect; nine games, nine wins, 17 goals for and 3 conceded. They have Villarreal and Leganés left to play and can win the league with either one win or two draws in their last two games. Here are the six keys they've relied upon to remain perfect Madrid and inch themselves so close to a league title:
In the last few weeks, Madrid's form has caused plenty of debate. They keep winning but not convincing. One of the reasons for so much debate is the games against Espanyol, Getafe and Athletic Club when VAR played a decisivie role. The numbers, however, paint a different story. Madrid have scored 1.9 goals per game since the return of football and conceded 0.3 per game. They are hitting the target 15.9 times per game and conceding 3.4 shots on target per game. They have had 60.7% possession too. Madrid are using a pragmatic approach but suggesting they have rattled off nine wins without deserving it is a disservice.
Zidane's tactics and his squad depth
With the accumulation of games, rotations have gone from optional to obligatory for Zidane. The French coach, with a base 4-3-3 formation, has changed the idea of his approach in several games to accomodate the players in the starting XI. Against Valencia, he played a 4-4-2 with Hazard and Benzema up front. Against Mallorca, he played an ultra-attacking style with a 4-2-3-1 formation, which reunited Bale, Hazard, Vinicius and Benzema. He wedged 5 midfielders into his starting line-up against Granada, the same as the team that won the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia (Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Valverde). Zidane has not been a stranger to changing things in the middle of the game either, showing off his flexibile tactics. The depth in the squad helps with players like Vinicius, Rodrygo, Asensio and Militao all playing and contributing in the last nine games.
Goals coming from everywhere
21 different players have scored for Real Madrid this season. Ferland Mendy was the latest to add his name to the list with his strike against Granada. The only players not to have scored are Militao, Brahim and Odriozola (on loan at Bayern until January). Benzema is the top goalscorer with 19 followed by Ramos with 10 and the midfielders have appeared as a fine source for goals too. Kroos and Casemiro have scored four each and Modric has added three. Valverde has scored two and Isco and James have scored one each. That's 15 goals from midfielders. Modric, in particular, deserves special praise. At 35, it looked like this year he would take a definitive step backwards but he has given Madrid a boost since the return. He is the 8th most used player by Zidane in LaLiga with 103 minutes more than Fede Valverde and almost a decade and a half older. He also has three goals and seven assists.
The White Wall
Cristiano left for Turin and brought Madrid lost a bonafide goalscorer. Zidane decided that if Madrid were not going to be able to score as many, they would not be conceding as many either. Madrid conceded six goals in their first fou games and Courtois had to endure whistling from the home crowd as he played in the shadow of cult hero Keylor Navas. The Belgian took a minute to adapt but has and is only conceding 0.58 goals per game (19 goals in 33 games).
Ramos, a leader at the back and up front
Benzema and Ramos are the top scorers since LaLiga returned with five goals each. That says plenty about Ramos' influence. Aside from being rock steady beside Raphael Varane at the back, he has won games for Madrid with his goals too. He has scored 20 penalties in a row. He also struck one of the sweetest free-kicks you'll see against Mallorca.
Benzema: goals and magic
Another important part of Madrid's fine run of form is Karim Benzema's five goals. Aside from the goals he has scored, he is also proving to be very generous. He assisted a goal for Asensio against Alavés and against Espanyol, he provided the assist of the season for Casemiro with his deft backheel. He has scored 19 goals in the league and he is also sharing penalty duty with Ramos. If it weren't for that, maybe Messi would not be leading the goalscorer's table with 22.
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