It was always expected that Real Madrid would advance from a Champions League group in which they were paired with Juventus, Galatasaray and Copenhagen—it wasn't quite expected they would advance in such an easy, record-breaking manner.
On Tuesday night they finished the group with a comfortable 2-0 win in Denmark against Copenhagen, leaving them with five wins and one draw from their six fixtures.
And even if Juventus win their match in Turkey—which will be replayed on Wednesday after falling foul to the weather—Los Blancos will still win the group by seven points.
Luka Modric opened the scoring in stunning fashion at the Parken Stadium.
The opening 15 or so minutes had been somewhat stale, but Madrid eventually clicked into shape and took a deserved lead when the Croatian turned 20 yards from goal and sent a screamer into Johan Wiland's top corner.
|Madrid's Group Phase|
Cristiano Ronaldo then set about testing out how switched on Wiland was.
First he saw a dipping volley tipped wide by the Swede as Carlo Ancelotti's side demonstrated the attacking flair which has seen them sweep through the group stages. Then Wiland was alert minutes later to tip another Ronaldo effort round the corner.
It wasn't just any goal the Madrid No. 7 was chasing, though, it was the goal that was going to set the record for most goals scored in the Champions League group stages.
When, not if, it would arrive was the only question people were asking, and they got their answer early in the second half.
Marcelo's diagonal pass put Copenhagen on the back foot, allowing Pepe to head across the six-yard box for an unmarked Ronaldo to sweep home. It took him to nine goals in five games in Europe this season, breaking the previous record of eight.
Ronaldo's goal also meant Madrid equalled a record, too: most team goals at this stage of the tournament. Their 20 goals matches the totals scored by Manchester United (1998/99) and Barcelona (2011/12) previously.
The only surprise, perhaps, was that they didn't go on and score four or five from that point. After all, Ancelotti's side had managed six at Galatasaray and four at the Bernabeu against both Gala and Copenhagen.
It wasn't like they didn't have chances either.
A great turn and left-foot shot from Ronaldo hit the inside of the post before Bale's glancing header went wide when the Welshman should have found the target.
But the best chances for a third were to come late on. Ronaldo was foiled from the penalty spot in the 90th minute when Wiland was wise to his Panenka attempt, while Bale got in a tangle at the far post when it looked like he'd have a simple tap in.
Still, this Madrid team have sent a message to the rest of the field with their attacking performances so far in the competition. Europe will have noted how freely Los Blancos have been scoring goals, while Ronaldo has been bordering on unplayable at times.
The thought of facing Madrid in the first knockout phase will be a chilling one for the Champions League's second-placed finishers.
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