Real Madrid: Zidane prepares for Liverpool test

It was a low-key affair at the Di Stéfano yesterday; a game that was always going to play second fiddle to the all-Basque Copa del Rey final and, in part, serve as a warm-up for the midweek clash with Liverpool. As he gets Real Madrid ready for that test, boss Zinedine Zidane took the chance to rest a couple of players, too. It was a game from which few new conclusions could be drawn. Isco again made it clear he's no longer up to much, as did Marcelo - despite having Ferland Mendy in support, allowing him to focus on the side of the game he's best at. He played better than Isco, but that’s not saying much. Éder Militão deputised ably for the rested Raphaël Varane, who is more important to Los Blancos than ever.

Asensio and Benzema get the goals as Eibar easily beaten

A side featuring Isco, Marcelo and Militão plus more regular starters enjoyed a comfortable afternoon. Lucas Vázquez stood out with an energetic display, haring up and down his flank. Marco Asensio continues to slowly, slowly return to form and, as he does so, is finding encouragement through goals. Yesterday he hit the bar with a free-kick, had a backheeled effort disallowed and finally got the game's opener, when Casemiro won the ball back and released him with a lovely pass, the forward advancing into the box and placing a confident finish past Marko Dmitrovic. Madrid's second was scored by the ever dependable Karim Benzema, after Vinicius followed an excellent forward burst with an equally fine cross onto the Frenchman's head.

Madrid growing in confidence in LaLiga as European tie awaits

It feels like Real Madrid have a very solid first-choice XI at the moment. Asensio is taking too long to find his feet, but he’s still chipping in with goals; Vinicius is starting to win Zidane over; Vázquez is providing very capable cover for long-term absentee Dani Carvajal; and Nacho is filling in well for Sergio Ramos, whose role as the team’s spiritual leader is passing over to Casemiro. What they've got is proving enough for them to pick up results in LaLiga that fuel their belief that they can not only win the Spanish title, but also challenge in the Champions League. It was a fairly non-descript win over an Eibar side who aren’t having the best of years, but it certainly does Madrid no harm at all ahead of the challenges to come.