Does Madrid's Win vs. Galatasaray Make Them Early Champions League Favourites?
It wasn't a particularly good night to be Fernando Muslera. The Galatasaray 'keeper was subjected to a barrage of work as Real Madrid shots rained in on his goal in the Spanish sides' 6-1 win on the opening night of the Champions League group stages.
By the time Mark Clattenburg blew for full time, Isco, Karim Benzema (two) and Cristiano Ronaldo (three) had etched their names on the scoresheet, while 12 of Los Blancos' shots had been on target.
Galatasaray might not be expected to make many waves in the competition, but the trip to the Turk Telekom Arena is traditionally a difficult one. The Turkish team boasted a good home record going into the game, losing only two of their last 14 home European matches—including a 3-2 win over Madrid as recently as April.
Iker Casillas' early injury though—a clash with Sergio Ramos meant he was replaced by Diego Lopez after 15 minutes—had threatened to dominate headlines once again; fortunately the lasting impression will now be the the brutality of the Madrid attack, notably Ronaldo.
It was Isco who opened the scoring after 33 minutes—following some questionable defending following an Angel di Maria long ball—although it could have been argued that Gala had been dealt a cruel hand at that point. Felipe Melo particularly had been unlucky not to open the scoring after being denied by both of Madrid's stoppers.
Isco's goal, his fourth in the Champions League, proceeded to open the floodgates.
Benzema made it two shortly after half-time, sent clear by Isco's touch, before Ronaldo took over. The Portuguese forward fired into the net from point-blank range after Isco had headed di Maria's cross back across the face of goal.
Less than 120 seconds later and Ronaldo had his second. Gareth Bale's cross—the Welshman just on in place of Isco—was headed on by Ramos, and the Madrid No. 7 smashed in his 205th goal for the club on the rebound—and the 206th wouldn't take long.
By this point Madrid were rampant, and Ronaldo was looking more impressive than he's looked all season. He soon turned provider, crossing for Benzema to tap home Madrid's fifth, before finishing the night with the goal of the game.
Stepovers, close control and a touch of class eluded three Galatasaray defenders in the box and he smashed past Muslera to claim the match ball—Umut Bulut had bagged a consolation moments before.
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Madrid ended the match with 18 attempts on goal and—more importantly—with a memo to the rest of Europe.
It's dangerous to use the words La Decima at this early stage—not that it will stop the Madrid press on Wednesday morning—but Madrid's attacking suggested they are more primed than ever to at last conquer that particular demon.
Defensively clubs will see chinks in their armoury—Gala created 10 chances—however with Bale barely involved on Tuesday night and Marcelo and Xabi Alonso among a list of players missing, will teams be able to stop them from scoring?
In terms of stating your intent as a potential winner of Europe's premier competition, there will be few making as much noise as Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid this week.
Stats courtesy of Squawka.
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