Real Madrid know what they need in LaLiga

Benzema is pulling Real Madrid along in their struggle to stay in the LaLiga title race. Taking together his goal against Atlético to secure a draw and the two from yesterday in the game against Elche, the end result is that Madrid are still somehow alive, with Atleti unable to escape at the top of the table. With his two latest goals, both excellent, Benzema now has 15 in LaLiga and 20 in total this season. The problem for Zidane is that he’s the entire front line of the team, with no more help than the occasional appearance from Casemiro, the second top scorer for Madrid this season. Yesterday, against Elche, the same script we’ve seen against teams from further down the table was repeated: defence shut up tight and a forward line unable to get through.

Madrid have six great players...

In fact it was worse than on other occasions, because with the Champions League game against Atalanta coming up, Zidane rested Kroos and Modric. They had to come on after an hour, because Madrid were losing and only with them on the pitch were the side able to avoid what would have been an utter disaster. The good news for Madrid is that they half a dozen excellent players, with Modric and Benzema the most notable. The bad news is that the rest of the group are not good enough. Isco had his big chance, with no Modric, and flopped. Valverde is a shadow of his former self. Vinicius performs if he has space, but doesn’t if things are tight. Asensio has started to bore Zidane. And we could go on…

LaLiga very much alive

But Madrid, struggling and only thanks to Benzema, recorded a win and then sat down to watch Atlético get a draw against Getafe. Now, with no games in hand to be played, it’s possible to properly analyse the situation. At one point it was 10 points and Atleti had a game in hand, now it’s six points. And Madrid have the best of the head-to-head. It’s still a big gap, but it’s doable for Madrid. Atleti did everything they could to score but came up against a superb Soria. Their draw means Real Madrid are definitely in the title race, as are Barcelona who play Huesca on Monday. It looks like Luis’ phrase is going to be proven true again - everything up to the final 10 games is just so much smoke.