Militão goal has Zidane jumping for joy

Real Madrid are battling on two fronts and continue chipping away at the same intensity in both. If anyone was in doubt, you only had to see the sight of Zidane jumping for joy when Militão finally broke the deadlock against Osasuna, just as the minutes were ebbing away. Zidane is a reserved man, someone who is not prone to showing his feelings, but he could hardly contain his happiness when the opening goal went in last night. He decided to leave out the team’s architects Kroos and Modric, both exhausted and in need of a rest, but he fielded Benzema, as crucial as ever, Militão, who is enjoying a new lease of life, and his other regular starters. He wanted all three points and got them. Madrid will travel to London with all his available players, but LaLiga is still within sight.

Atletico scrap a win at Elche

A couple of hours earlier on Saturday Atlético had won their game at Elche, extending their lead at the top of the table in the process. Simeone’s men pressed hard until the opening goal arrived then retreated back to ride out the rest of the game around their own area. It’s a strategy which exasperates Atleti fans, although there is a core section of supporters who remember how much this coach has done for the club and who forgive his cautious tactics. But yesterday, anxiety bubbled over into dangerous territory when the team gave away a penalty in the 90th minute. Fidel's spot-kick bounced back off the post and controversy surrounded his miss. Oblak had moved off his line and a few players had encroached inside the area just as the kick was taken. The penalty wasn’t ordered to be retaken as the recent tweaking of the rules has caused some confusion.

Zidane forced to make changes

That result meant that Madrid had to go all out for a win against Osasuna. Zidane, who rarely strays away from his usual 4-3-3 system, has become quite an expert in geometry. Due to the constant stream of players dropping out through injury and others returning, he fielded a 4-2-3-1 formation yesterday, with Hazard just behind Benzema and Castilla midfielder Antonio Blanco partnering Casemiro. We are still eagerly waiting for Hazard to blossom, but he gave us little cause for optimism. The hero of the night was Militão who, after three great chances, finally managed to put one past Sergio Herrera with his fourth attempt. Casemiro, the team’s second top scorer, wrapped the game up a few minutes later. This time it was Varane who ended up on the treatment table. We’ll wait and see who is available for the trip to London.