REAL MADRID 8-0 MALMÖ
Madrid empty the clip
Four from Cristiano, three from Benzema and one from Kovacic humilliated a non-existent Malmö. Madrid equal Liverpool’s record win, Cristiano is overall top scorer in the group stages.
Madrid, Cristiano and Benzema were once again full of joy and good football, in a game that was straightforward going on utterly easy. Malmö were the perfect rivals, a team with no menace, a spindly defence and mute in attack. They looked like they’d never made it out of Marbella. At the end of the day, the perfect adversary to ensure the Bernabéu was a fun park and not the seething cauldron of recent times.
Although the meekness of Malmö blurs the reality of the events, it can’t be denied that Cristiano has refound himself. He missed his first three chances, but found consolation in the fact he was vital in the build-up to Benzema’s opening two goals. He was then fundamental in making quite clear the gulf between the two sides and finished up in the stampede that brushed Malmö completely aside. He scored a free-kick after 22 failed attempts and in the second half scored another three in 12 minutes, all in pure centre-forward style, at point blank range. With his four he reached a total of 11 goals in these group stages, beating his own record of nine he’d held jointly with Luiz Adriano.
Benzema also took full advantage. He’s over his injury and is playing with greater aplomb and a keener scent of goal than remembered from before. To those virtues, appreciated more by the coach and his staff than the fans in the ground, he’s added opportunism. He added another three goals, two with just one touch, something that has become quite a habit for him this season. He’s on 12 goals now and it looks like he’ll make the target of 25 Benítez set for him. The cat has turned into a hunting hound at the most unexpected moment, while he’s got one foot in the law courts and the other, extremely refined, on the pitch.
Among all the goals everything looked magnificent for Madrid. Danilo, who didn’t look like he deserved to be in the team for much of the season so far, joined the revival. Casemiro, a player with no guarantees at the club, fourth in the pecking order, stopped everything in midfield and even tried a Pelé-style effort from the half-way line. Kovacic is already more than Illarra was after two years. He deserved his goal. It also doesn’t look like having a dose of Isco and James at the same time is contra-indicated. The former was a knife down the right, the second a great floating midfielder. There are more Iberian lynxes than there are footballers with his long-distance movement. The defence had the afternoon off. And Benítez took advantage of the happy moment to slip Cheryshev on. It’s much easier for a delighted public to accept an apology.