Real Madrid hosted former coach, Manuel Pellegrini and his Andalusian side Malaga in a match where only one team showed up. A hat trick from Cristiano Ronaldo, a brace from Karim Benzema and singular goals from Angel Di Maria and Marcelo gave Madrid a 7-0 home victory.
That win means Real Madrid still has a 100 percent home record, and maximum points have been collected at home. However, the win still means they trail a Barcelona side by seven points. Barcelona came out with a 1-0 victory over Valencia the night prior to this game.
As a side note, Pellegrini admitted after the match he had rested some of his first-team players for that game because they had played on Monday and will host Osasuna on Sunday. Apparently, he was complaining about the same thing somebody else had complained about just days ago and was almost crucified for it. It really is a "hypocritical" world we live in.
However, in all the hullabaloo that was the 7-0 thrashing, Cristiano Ronaldo had to be taken off the field and into the dressing room because of an injury he sustained when he completed his hat trick for the night.
The team's official website then came out with an announcement this morning:
"A magnetic resonance done at Sanitas La Moraleja Hospital has determined Cristiano Ronaldo has a Grade I muscle injury on the left biceps femoris muscle. The player will miss 10-15 days. His recovery is being monitored."
This new development now means the Portuguese player will definitely be out of this Sunday’s clash with Racing Santander and could even possibly miss the second leg tie against Lyon two weeks from now. Bad news.
It doesn't come as a complete shock, however, considering how many minutes he has played this season. Jose Mourinho has put so much trust in the Portuguese winger this season that before the match against Malaga, he had played a total of 3,771 minutes out of a possible 3,780.
He also happens to have scored 43 percent of the team's goals (he has scored 28 goals this season according to Marca). That's a lot for one player, and one could have easily anticipated this injury a while ago.
That said, with or without Ronaldo, the team should be able to produce results. Now Mourinho is tasked with the duty of tweaking the squad/formation a little to adapt to Ronaldo's absence.
I'd hate to be in his shoes now, but with the number of squad members on the team (25), there should be quite a few options.
He could do a like-for-like replacement and give Pedro Leon a shot on the wings or move Ozil to the wings and slot in Kaka in the middle. Or he could switch to a 4-3-2-1 formation and play with three central midfielders and a lone striker. He could even go for a 4-2-2-2, with Adebayor and Benzema in front.
Will Real Madrid win their next two games without Ronaldo?
Also, Fernando Gago has been reported to be out for three weeks due to a knock he had during training. This is particularly interesting because Lassana Diarra is suspended from the trip to Racing on Sunday, and Sami Khedira is still out due to the injury he sustained against Lyon.
This leaves Xabi Alonso as Madrid's only natural defensive midfielder. The team has played with at least two holding midfielders so far this season, so this could be a game were Estaban Granero will be trusted to partner Alonso.
On the whole, we will be seeing a lot of changes to the lineup in the coming week, so it will be interesting to see how Mourinho approaches the next few games.
In the meantime, feel free to suggest what tweaks to the lineup you think would be best for the team in the absence of Ronaldo.