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Madrid regain belief after closing the gap to five points


All of a sudden, Real Madrid are within five points of Atlético - a situation which allows them to keep believing that the title race isn't quite over. Five points distance is still quite a lot, and Madrid have also played two games more than Atleti. Whatever analysis of the title race will have to take that into account but Atlético's 2-2 draw at home to Celta has enabled those in the chasing pack to pull a little closer. Madrid more than Barça because they have played one game more. Following this season’s league campaign has been a chaotic experience - what with the delayed start although the coronavirus pandemic isn’t causing matches to be suspended as initially feared. For the time being, it is only causing isolated incidents with some players missing games although Madrid had a number of absentees yesterday for other reasons.

Mendy scores
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Mendy scoresDenis DoyleGetty Images

Madrid were without many familiar faces yesterday and Zidane responded by changing the system. He played with three centre-backs, a system which has stifled his own team whenever they have come up against it and he used it to flummox an unsuspecting Bordalás, who was forced to change his own plans. Getafe were poor. That gritty side, who press high, play the long ball, play man-for-man and break the rhythm up with fouls was nowhere to be seen – the usual tough Getafe, which chews nails and spits them out, has been on the wane this season and last night they simply didn’t turn up at all. They didn’t improve even after the break, despite a series of changes - including Kubo and Aleñá, their big loan signings during the winter window..

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Madrid played with total security, although a little flat up front during the first half. Marvin, playing out on the right wing, looked sheepish. The goals didn’t arrive until the start of the second half when Vinicius had moved over to that wing, leaving his to another B team player, Sergio Arribas, who did pass the exam. A perfect centre from Vinicius nodded in by Benzema; then, Marcelo (who's looking happy once again) put another ball over from the by-line which was diverted in by Mendy. With those two moves, aided by some careless defending by the visitors, Madrid managed to resolve the game on a day when they were missing several first-choice players and now they have Atlético within sight – still a fair distance away, but reasonably close nevertheless.