Real Madrid surged to a convincing 4-1 victory over Eibar to keep the pace with Barcelona at the top of the La Liga
Zinedine Zidane rotated his side and despite missing key men through injury, Real Madrid eased to a victory against Eibar at the Ipurua Municipal Stadium. Karim Benzema picked up a brace while goals from James Rodriguez and Marco Asensio ensured Zidane’s men picked up 3 points.
Real never looked particularly troubled and had to ensure there were no slip-ups as they continued to push for a hotly contested La Liga title, and Zinedine Zidane will have been pleased with his sides performance. We take a look at the key talking points from the match.
Karim Benzema excels in a starring role
With both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo missing in the fixture, Karim Benzema was tasked with being the main focal point of Real Madrid’s attack. It has been a while since the Frenchman has been the main man up-front, and he did not disappoint.
Benzema was undoubtedly the man of the match as he picked up 2 goals and an assist, helping Real to a victory. While neither of the Frenchman’s goals were particularly impressive, Benzema was a constant thorn in Eibar’s side and his movement off the ball dragged defenders out of position regularly.
Benzema has been on the receiving end of some hostility from Real Madrid fans, who have booed him regularly over the last couple of months, but hard-working performances like this will soon silence the critics.
Benzema capable of moving much more freely with Cristiano & Bale out of the game. He’s taking control of every ball very well. Lovely.
— Ali (@RM_Insider) March 4, 2017
Zidane had one eye on the Champions League
Zinedine Zidane’s team selection was slightly surprising but understandable given Real Madrid’s Champions League fixture in midweek. Zidane was already without Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Alvaro Morata but still chose to rest key players regardless of that.
Toni Kroos, Marcelo and Dani Carvajal were all left on the bench, and it was obvious that Zidane wanted to keep his players fresh for the midweek tie against Napoli. It worked out for the Frenchman and several fringe players got some much needed minutes as a result.
James deserves more minutes
James Rodriguez was another player who stood out last night after being given a rare start. Rodriguez has been constantly linked with moves away from Real Madrid and despite Zidane insisting he wants to keep the Colombian midfielder, he has struggled to break into the Frenchman’s side.
Zidane’s decision to rotate last night coupled with the fact that he was missing key players allowed Rodriguez to start the match and the midfielder showed why many have been calling for him to be given more minutes.
Rodriguez picked up a goal and an assist in his 75 minutes on the pitch and completed an impressive 4 key passes. It is unlikely that one performance will cement his place in the first XI, but Rodriguez helped his case with a fine performance last night.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 4, 2017
What does this performance mean for Zidane?
Madrid looked like a balanced side in the absence of Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Since Bale’s return to the side, Madrid have conceded seven goals and have faced a two goal deficit in each of their last three games.
Between them, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez – both of whom were on either side of Benzema – put in a total of 7 tackles and their workrate was hugely impressive. Both players did not shirk their defensive duties and constantly harried Eibar’s players while tracking back every time Eibar attacked the visitors.
The brilliance of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo mean that neither can be dropped from the side when available but last night’s cohesive performance will definitely raise some uncomfortable questions for Zinedine Zidane.
Fringe players impress once more
Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez have been impressive whenever they have been given a chance this season and along with Rodriguez and Benzema – who was given a starring role last night – impressed for Los Blancos.
Along with their impressive work rate, both youngsters were also a constant thorn in Eibar’s side. Asensio completed 2 key passes and 3 successful takeons, while Lucas Vazquez also contributed one key pass and a whopping 4 tackles by himself, according to WhoScored.
Real Madrid’s strength in depth is quite impressive and Zinedine Zidane will be happy to see the level of commitment shown by his younger players. The Frenchman will also be happy with the fact that should he need to call on one of them, he can depend on them considering the performance they put in last night.