Real Madrid vs. Juventus: 6 Things We Learned from Champions League Clash
Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo sandwiched a Fernando Llorente strike for the Italians, who were reduced to 10 men when Giorgio Chiellini was sent off in the second half for blocking Ronaldo with his elbow.
Despite the three points, Madrid's performance didn't rise above how they have looked so far this season under Carlo Ancelotti.
With that in mind, here are some familiar-sounding talking points from Los Blancos' win.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo Scores Goals
It's been written before, it'll be written again and it will continue to be written until Ronaldo relents. Age will presumably catch up with him one day.
His first goal against Juventus was well-taken.
Angel di Maria's reverse pass was sublime, but the composure shown by Ronaldo was still impressive given the circumstances.
Even if his second was only a penalty, what a well-taken penalty it was.
The Portuguese forward has now scored seven goals in three games in this season's Champions League and 57 in the competition in total—only Raul and Lionel Messi have managed more.
2. Karim Benzema Doesn't
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Karim Benzema.
The Frenchman's role in Ancelotti's system was already questionable without him missing open goals like he did after 60 minutes against Juve.
Di Maria's super scooped pass found Alvaro Arbeloa, who fed the ball to Benzema to tap home. He put it over the net.
Whistles and boos from the Bernabeu crowd aren't helping, but it's hard to see Madrid's No. 9 rediscovering his scoring touch anytime soon.
3. Midfield Weaknesses Persist
Ancelotti shifted from the double pivot to something resembling a triple pivot for the visit of the Italian champions.
Luka Modric replaced Isco, lining up alongside Asier Illarramendi and Sami Khedira.
Something still didn't ring true, though.
Not really impressed by Real. Midfield not working, Benzema invisible as per usual. ADM good, hope he's not the one to make way for Bale— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) October 23, 2013
Illarra continues to grow into his role as a Madrid player, while Khedira looks uncomfortable in the final third.
Luka Modric, as he largely has been this season, was one of Madrid's top performers. It's just how he works with the other midfielders which is proving problematic.
WhoScored.com revealed that the Croatian made 104 passes—the highest amount in a match since he joined Madrid—with an accuracy rate of 96 percent.
It's certainly a worrying problem ahead of the trip to Barcelona on Saturday.
4. Can the Full-Backs Defend?
Paul Pogba was completely unmarked at the far post when he headed on goal in the buildup to Llorente's equaliser.
Arbeloa had gone missing.
Beyond that, Marcelo—devoid of help from Ronaldo—was nowhere to be seen as Martin Caceres hung in the cross which led to the same goal.
The Brazilian looked good going forward and Arbeloa showed some nice touches, but Barcelona will feel that the likes of Neymar, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez can exploit Madrid in the full-back areas this coming weekend.
5. Iker Casillas Does OK
Iker Casillas came in for his now-customary Champions League appearance, largely doing OK.
He captained the side and was called into action as early as the second minute, with Claudio Marchisio forcing him into a stinging save from a 20-yard effort.
Little fault can be distributed to Casillas for the goal Madrid conceded and he displayed decent awareness to deal with a couple of dangerous balls in the area.
6. Madrid Will Qualify Now
Madrid would not have imagined they would be seven points ahead of Juve after three group matches.
That's the position they find themselves in, though, with closest rivals Galatasaray five points back.
It's going to take something quite remarkable to stop Los Blancos from qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League now.
And finally, what about Gareth Bale? He didn't look like a player ready for El Clasico during his 20-minute cameo.
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