A first-half brace from Welsh winger Gareth Bale saw Real Madrid record a comfortable win against a Leganes side currently struggling in 17th place. Still reeling from a shocking midweek Champions League draw against Legia Warsaw, Zidane had to ensure that his players didn’t display a similar level of complacency in the league as well – with arch-rivals Barcelona breathing down their necks at the top of the table.
Injuries forced Zizou to shuffle his line-up at the Bernabéu, with minor injuries to Pepe and Benzema adding to an already extensive list of absentees. Nacho was brought in to partner Varane in the center of defense, while Carvajal and Marcelo started on the right and left respectively. In midfield, Zidane opted for the makeshift trio of Isco, Kovavic, and Kroos once more as Modric was only deemed fit enough for the bench. Ronaldo and Bale were accompanied by Morata up front, with the young Spaniard impressing with his performances in recent weeks.
A timid start from Real Madrid resulted in an unimpressive first thirty minutes, and the few chances that did come their way were wasted completely by Ronaldo & Co. However, a lovely diagonal ball from Isco allowed Bale to blaze through the Leganes defence and nip in past the goalkeeper to slow into an empty net in the 38th minute. Bale doubled the lead and his personal tally shortly after, as a smartly worked Kroos free-kick resulted in a simple tap-in for the Welshman. Los Blancos managed to settle into the game after that, but it wasn’t until the 76th minute that they got their third and final goal as Morata slotted in at the near-post after being played into space by Modric.
Despite recording a satisfactory win on the night, alarm bells were ringing in Madrid the day after as Kroos was diagnosed with a broken foot which will see him miss around six weeks of action. With crucial games against Barcelona and Atletico to follow, this could pose a major problem for Zidane as the German midfielder has been untouchable in his midfield all season. Moreover, Bale’s splendid performance overshadowed another underwhelming performance by Ronaldo – who has failed to find the kind of scoring rhythm that viewers associate so closely with him. The coming weeks could prove to be decisive as a result, as Zidane’s managerial merit and the club’s chances of silverware hang in the balance.