Mallorca vs. Real Madrid: 6 Things We Learned
Real Madrid bounced back with a bang.
The 5-0 bashing of Mallorca will aid Jose Mourinho's team in its quest to regain the La Liga title.
Lionel Messi propelled Barcelona to the same scoreline this weekend. As usual, Cristiano Ronaldo rose to his rival's challenge with an excellent display.
There were plenty of other tidbits arose from this one-sided affair. Here's what we learned...
Cristiano Ronaldo Will Fight for the Ballon D'Or
Cristiano Ronaldo had to sit back and watch Lionel Messi score another two goals against Rayo Vallecano.
The Portuguese player reminded everyone why he should be considered for the Ballon d'Or. He posted an excellent set of statistics and indicated he is willing to fight for personal glory.
Ronaldo launched seven shots towards Dudu Aouate's goal. Four of these found the target, while two hit the back of the net.
Crissy was hugely efficient with the ball at his feet.
He completed two successful dribbles throughout the game—more than any other player on the pitch. The former Manchester United man also drew three fouls and completed 83 percent of his passes.
Let's not forget his assist, either.
Madrid were happy to play in second gear against Mallorca. The build-up play was a little lethargic at times, especially when the game remained 2-0.
Ronaldo fought for every ball. He showed emotion when he missed a header and reacted to any mistakes with real passion.
Messi had better watch out.
Michael Essien Is a Liability at Left-Back
Michael Essien is not suited to playing left-back.
His defensive inadequacies were easy to overlook against a severely depleted Mallorca outfit. The home side barely threatened.
When they did muster an attack, it was interesting to see they chose Essien's flank as the route of progress.
The Ghana international made some decent tackles. He produced four successful challenges and a single interception across 90 minutes.
His distribution was also extremely successful. Essien completed 91 percent of his passes—more than any player that started the game.
Even so, something wasn't quite right about his performance.
Essien's positioning was horrendous at times. He surged forward to support but forgot to sprint back. If you looked carefully, the on-loan Chelsea man slowly drifted toward the centre of the pitch whenever play pushed away from Madrid's defence.
The 30-year-old needs to satisfy his natural instincts. He can't do that at left-back.
Essien will prove to be a defensive liability against stronger sides.
Luka Modric Will Keep Improving for Mourinho's Side
Sami Khedira's injury is a huge blow for Madrid.
Mourinho needed someone to step up against Mallorca. Luka Modric did exactly that.
His display reminded everyone why he exited White Hart Lane for £35 million. Although he was afforded time and space in midfield, the tiny Croat looks to be settling in nicely.
Modric made more passes than any other player. He took control of the game with 90 percent of his 79 passes finding a teammate. More impressively, 10 out of an attempted 11 long balls landed at the feet of his fellow attacker.
He also produced three tackles, two interceptions and two clearances in a remarkably well-rounded performance.
This is exactly the reason Mourinho pursued Modric. He has the technique and ability to dictate.
Modric's brilliant swivel set events in motion for the third goal. He is gaining confidence in La Liga at the perfect time for Madrid.
Gonzalo Higuain Is Ready to Lead Madrid's Assault Up the Table
Gonzalo Higuain's performance was nothing short of sensational.
The Argentine was dropped for the midweek clash in Dortmund. He has failed to make an impact in the Champions League this season.
La Liga is proving to be a different beast altogether.
Higuain now has six goals in six starts and three substitute appearances. His relationship with Ronaldo appears to be blossoming into something truly special.
The striker showed awareness to capitalise on Mallorca's early mistake. He ruthlessly latched onto Ronaldo's pass for the second goal, dispatching it with confidence.
It was economical stuff from the front man.
Higuain slotted home a brace of goals from just two shots. Karim Benzema will be anxious to prove he can do the same.
Mourinho will be most impressed with his striker's assist. His through ball was perfectly weighted for Ronaldo to poke home a fourth.
Any of Madrid's playmakers would have been proud of such a pass.
Mourinho Needs More Faith in Youth
Jose Mourinho loves to use experienced players.
His Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan sides were all built on aging legs. Madrid find themselves in an injury crisis. If the manager had more faith in his younger players, fitness problems wouldn't look so daunting.
Back in September, Mourinho suggested all of his players are important (via RealMadrid.com).
If this was the case, he would have started Nacho in defence.
As I mentioned before, Michael Essien didn't look completely comfortable at left-back. This could have been the perfect opportunity for Madrid's 22-year-old defender to get some game time.
Mourinho did allow Alvaro Morata 11 minutes on the pitch. The versatile forward was hugely impressive during his brief cameo.
Although he could have conceded a penalty with an unfortunate handball, the 20-year-old played with assurance.
He completed 100 percent of his passes. Morata's brilliant lob led to the final goal—allowing Mesut Ozil and Jose Callejon to gain some confidence with an assist and goal respectively.
I wish Mourinho would have a little more faith in youth. The approach has worked out well for Barcelona...
The Best Is Yet to Come
A 5-0 scoreline is exactly what Madrid needed this weekend.
The current La Liga champions shouldn't be too impressed with themselves.
They overcame a weakened Mallorca side who threw in the towel after 10 minutes. Joaquin Caparros' side are plummeting down the table with four losses in their last four games.
Such statistics indicate this result was never in doubt.
Mourinho's stern expressions suggested he isn't totally happy with his side. The team lacked intensity after scoring the second goal and took too long to screw in the rest.
This team is more than capable of comfortably strolling through league matches with injuries. Tougher opponents will bring the best out of Madrid this season.
The best is definitely yet to come.
All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.