Real Madrid destroyed newly promoted Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night. Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Keylor Navas impressed for the Los Blancos as Cristiano Ronaldo continued to fire blanks.
The win marked new manager Rafa Benitez’s first competitive win having drawn the opening clash away to Sporting de Gijon.
Bale opened the scoring within first five minutes of the game, heading in James’s pin point cross from the right. James then scored a peach of a free-kick from a narrow angle, which ricocheted off the post and into the net.
In the second half, Benzema opened his account for the season, having missed the season opener against Sporting de Gijon due to injury. The Frenchman headed home a neat cross from Bale’s right foot.
James, who had already scored and assisted one, scored from an acrobatic overhead kick, after controlling a wayward shot from Toni Kroos. Keylor Navas denied Betis to score from the penalty spot, after he perfectly judged Ruben Castro’s tame spot kick.
Gareth Bale completed the rout in the 89th minute, when he thundered in an unstoppable drive from all of 25 yards, which ricocheted off the post and went into the net.
Here are some of the talking points from the game:
1. James and not Ronaldo should be in-charge of free-kicks at Real Madrid
James was dropped from the starting line up for the season opener against Sporting de Gijon, citing his lower level of fitness having returned late from holidays due to his participation in the Copa America. However, the Colombian was awarded a start in the game against Betis and he repaid the faith of the manager with a man-of-the-match performance.
The midfielder also bundled in a free-kick which was his second in two seasons from four attempts. When compared with the stats of Cristiano Ronaldo and even Lionel Messi, the Colombian has a far better conversion rate. However, it’s probably Ronaldo’s reputation and the influence he has over the team coupled with Gareth Bale insistence to be the next man in charge of dead ball that has cost the team. Ronaldo has been nowhere near how good he used to be with his free-kicks and it’s about time he passed on that baton to James Rodriguez.
3 – Direct free-kicks in La Liga since last season: L. Messi: 2 goals from 38 Cristiano Ronaldo: 2 from 36 James Rodr guez: 2 from 4 Crack.
a OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 29, 2015
2. Gareth Bale has moved past the ‘second season syndrome’
After a historic first year, where Bale was responsible for Real Madrid’s La Decima, the World Record signing had a below par second season at the Santiago Bernabeu failing to live up to his hype and his astronomical price tag.
The Welshman possesses the quality to light up the field with his blistering pace and hammer of a left foot. While Rafa Benitez’s insistence of using the former Tottenham talisman has drawn flak from a huge section of fans, the Welshman justified the faith of the manager with two goals and an assist under his belt. Last season, the 26-year-old was too often criticized for trying to become a type of footballer he is not and it seems Bale has listened to his detractors and has started concentrating on what he was good at.
3. Keylor Navas is a good stop-gap, as Real prepare to wait for De Gea’s arrival next year
The Costa Rican goalkeeper had a solid game. Although Real Betis do not possess one of the most potent forward line, the shot-stopper came good when called into action. The 28-year-old was one of the best goalkeeper’s in the league when Real Madrid signed him from Levante at the back of an excellent showing in the World Cup with his national team.
With the Spanish transfer window set to close tonight, chances are high that David De Gea would be staying at Manchester United and the long discussed move to Santiago Bernabeu will happen next summer. If Keylor Navas continues to produce good solid displays like this week, the Real Madrid faithful would be more than willing to wait a year for the arrival of De Gea on a free.