The build-up for this match was such, it generated enormous tension among the fans of Real Madrid and football critics, who, deep down, also did not want the best club in the history of football to feature in the Europa League. Even Real Madrid’s rivals know, without the Los Blancos, the UEFA Champions League would lose their shine.

At the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, the Royal Whites came into this clash knowing that anything other than a victory might not be enough.

But within ten minutes Karim Benzema reduced the tension.

Makeshift right-back Lucas Vasquez won possession deep in his own half and drove upfield before delivering a scintillating cross into the box for Benzema to nod it.

The Frenchman celebrated equaling Roberto Carlos’ record of 527 games for a non-Spanish player at Madrid.

Madrid had themselves on the front foot and it was time for another goal to take more advantage of the situation.

The second goal was just around the corner.

Some excellent link-up play between Rodrygo and Luka Modric allowed the Brazilian space to cross into the box, and Benzema was on hand to guide the ball beyond the reach of Yann Sommer in the net of Borussia Monchengladbach.

Benzema came within inches of a hat-trick with an effort that smashed against the crossbar, Sommer produced a spectacular save to deny Ramos, while Vazquez hit the near post too as Real ran riot.

It was on the backdrop of great uncertainty that Real Madrid entered a week that could have had huge ramifications on their entire season.

First up was a trip to the Ramos Sanchez Pizjuan to face Sevilla, before consecutive home games against Monchengladbach and Atletico Madrid in the derby on Saturday.

Going against the form book, Real Madrid have triumphed in the first two games and passed with flying colours and this will give them added impetus to face off their city rivals who are currently on an unbeaten run of 27 matches in La Liga.

Many times, Zidane stated, he is well aware of the situation and knows how to get past them and so far he has proved, he can soak up the pressure, like he used to do in his playing days, and become the last man standing –the ultimate winner.

Zidane went back to the basics, which earned him the 34th La Liga title last season – watertight defence and compactness.

As soon as the game started, Real Madrid never looked to get out of the shape in the midfield backline.

Luka Modric was the leader in the midfield – kept the shape of the midfield intact, charged higher to press, dictated the game as the creative force, and during the transitions, defended masterfully.

He hit the post and had a goal disallowed.

It had been one of Modric’s best displays this season.

Toni Kroos played the role of a regista – his distributions were accurate and effective.

Rodrygo was a threat on the wing.

Benzema played the role of a true center-forward rather than a striker.

Vinicius dribbled, kept the left flank engaged, and despite lacking the sharpness, worked really hard to defend in transition, particularly on two sequences where Casemiro was caught out of position.

Lucas Vazquez was a force in the right-back position while Sergio Ramos kept the defence neat and clean.

Without Ramos, Madrid suffered eight defeats in their last 10 Champions League games. Among the worst of those were the two recent early exits against Man City and Ajax, both in the last 16.

His leadership was keenly felt, and heard, as he marshaled and instructed the defence throughout, as Madrid kept only their second clean sheet of the group phase.

Monchengladbach posed threats – Alassane Plea might have equalized for Gladbach when he ran through on goal moments later but clipped his effort over Courtois and wide of the post, in the Germans’ only promising moment in the first half.

But with the progress of time, Madrid grew stronger.

After all the uncertainty, fear, and tension, Real Madrid not only qualified for the next round, but they topped in the group, which became the Group of Death as the competition began.

 

 

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