In a glorious battle to reclaim the ace from their arch-rivals Barcelona, Real Madrid crafted a fine victory over a frail Mallorca at Estadio Alfredo De Stefano on Matchday 31 of La Liga. Zidane’s wards made it four out of four after the return from the compelled hiatus due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
Madrid started on a positive note, pressing early in the game as Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale took early digs at the Mallorca custodian, Manolo Reina. However, the hosts recuperated in no time as Mallorca forced Courtois into making a fine save to keep the affair locked at an impasse.
Real drew first blood in disputable fashion as Vinicius Jr dinked home in a very cheeky manner, leaving Reina dumbfound at his near post. This goal had to be checked thoroughly as the Mallorca players believed that it was foul on Dani Rodriguez by Dani Carvajal.
From the initial angles, though it seemed to be a veritable push, VAR deemed it to be in line with the book and the goal stood. The move spanned from Carvajal as he fed Modric with a delectable ball and the Croatian glided an intelligent pass to the Brazilain youngster to see home proceedings.
The Real captain doubled the lead in the second half with an exquisite free-kick bombed into the top-left corner just from the edge of the penalty box, establishing a comfortable cushion over the hosts and also overcoming his previous record of highest number of goals in a season.
We will look at three pointers that helped Madrid to reclaim the top spot.
1. Perfect application of the duo of Hazard and Vinicius Jr
A major concern in the ranks of Zidane’s thoughts was to test the most abled combination that will work just fine for the Belgian wizard in the middle and the Brazilian wunderkind upfront. Zidane came up with an ingenious idea of deploying Hazard in the middle instead of his usual left and the Belgian ploughed the entire midfield with clinical prowess, acting as a major catalyst to propel the sorties of the visitors and a perfect link between Modric and Valverde.
Also Vinicius made himself at home as he got ample opportunities at his behest to mark his class and also bedeviled the Mallorca goalie way too frequently, scoring one and rattling the post from another enterprise of his.
2. Thibaut Courtois played the game of his life for Real Madrid
Despite Real’s opponents being emasculated due to the vast expertise and star players in their opposition’s ranks, Mallorca came up with a very spirited performance that brought down Courtois on his knees. However, the big man did not cower under pressure and delivered a masterclass of his own.
Thwarting away two sure chances and also dealing with other tricky ones in the most effective way possible, he became the hero of the night for the Los Merengues.
Early in the first half, Iddrisu Baba belted a pile-driver from another world that curled viciously towards the goal, however, Courtois dived to his right to pull off a fingertip save that kept Real in the game.
Lago Junior could have also been the commander in the Mallorca attack but failed to do so as Thibaut Courtois produced a timely dive to deny the Ivorian.
3. A captain’s knock from Ramos
Not only a rock-solid defender but Ramos is also the best campaigner in Real Madrid’s ranks at the moment.
Though he was tested frequently in the beginning of the first half, Ramos coped with the increasing intensity of the hosts and shortly started playing the vanguard of the Madrid defence.
To add to his weapons, his latest proclivity for goals has been a thorn in his opposition’s ambitions. With the perfect sharp-shooter bundled into the top-left corner of the net from 24 yards away, Ramos nailed the final keel on the Mallorca coffin to claim back the top-spot.
Real and Barcelona are sitting with the exact number of points, however, Madrid is acing the league at the moment due to a superior goal difference.