Karim Benzema scored and assisted to get the Whites within inches of the title!
Real Madrid saw off Alaves 2-0 in the second-to-last home game of the season to move within five points of winning the La Liga title. Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio combined to restore the four-point lead at the top as Los Blancos managed to avoid any slip-ups without several key stars in the line-up.
Here are the major talking points from the clash:
Alaves lacked the cutting edge
Since the league reconvened last month, Alaves have struggled to source goals. They had struck in only two out of the six games before this clash, netting thrice in total, part of the reason for the club’s battle with relegation this season. Last night, the Babazorros came agonizingly close to finding the net again but were once more let down by poor finishing.
Barely three minutes into the contest, the visitors carved open their mighty rivals when Edgar Mendez’s cross was headed against the bar by Joselu. The rebound then fell for Lucas Perez who’s attempt was cleared over the line by Raphael Varane. They again came close when Joselu wasted Perez’s cross by blazing his header over the bar in the 18th minute.
If that wasn’t frustrating enough, Joselu, once again, did brilliantly to get in behind the defence to meet Perez’s pass but failed to Thibaut Courtois in a one-on-one battle. If Alaves keep wasting chances like this, then a drop will be imminent.
Benzema is Real Madrid’s ‘MVP’
Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left, Karim Benzema has been a different beast at Real Madrid. He was the only consistent performer in the train-wreck of 2018/19 season and has been crucial to Real Madrid’s title hopes this term too.
The Frenchman once again served a timely reminder of his importance last night by stepping up to dispatch the penalty in the absence of Sergio Ramos, whilst also assisting Marco Asensio for the second after beating the offside trap like a pure predator. He’s now only behind Lionel Messi in terms of goals with 18 and edged his side one step closer to the title after another talismanic performance.
At 34, Modric is still the beast
Luka Modric may have conceded his Ballon d’Or already, but he reminded everyone why he’s still one of the world’s best with an absolute top-notch performance against Alaves. The Croat, who turns 35 in September, ran the rings around the visitors by constantly winning back possession and also breaking up attacks with crucial tackles.
He even had a pass success rate of 92% whilst also demonstrating his potency with four dribbles. His finishing was slightly wayward as he squandered a couple of half-decent chances, but that’s a mere footnote in what was an electric night for the ageless wonder.
Mendy is the heir to Marcelo’s crown
The legendary Brazilian hasn’t been up to snuff since the start of 2018/19 season besides a few bright showings here and there, as the Ol’ Father Time is pretty much catching up with the star. Fortunately for the Whites though, they already have a replacement in their ranks in the shape of Ferlan Mendy, who started in his position with the former suspended from the clash, and played a blinder.
Especially during the opening exchanges when El Glorioso were particularly threatening, the French youngster wreaked havoc down that left flank with menacing runs and created good chances. The penalty too was to his credit as it was his surge inside the area which drew a foul from Ximo Navarro and resulted in the spot kick.
As painful as it is for Madrid faithfuls to see Marcelo’s dramatic decline at the top, the future at least looks bright.