A depleted Real Madrid side pulled through a difficult away encounter against Eibar with relative ease, restoring a sense of calm to the side after a couple of tumultuous weeks. The club’s star duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale were both unavailable for the game due to injury and suspension respectively, and the squad’s fringe players were ready to pounce on the opportunity presented in their absence.
Zidane lined up with his favoured 4-3-3 formation, with the midfield trio of Casemiro, Modric, and James Rodriguez tasked with controlling the game. Further up field, Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio were brought in to support Karim Benzema. The rotation proved immensely successful on the night and a fabulous first-half performance put Madrid in the driving seat.
Benzema opened the scoring in the 14th minute after Asensio’s driven ball across goal found him unmarked, and the Frenchman managed to turn in the rebound after having his initial attempt saved. Shortly after, a curling free-kick from Rodriguez found Benzema in space again – allowing him to double the advantage with a deft finish past the keeper. Rodriguez managed to get his own name on the scoresheet not long after, and it Benzema who turned provider for the Columbian with a powerful low cross.
The second-half started with a lower intensity, and Zidane’s men were clearly in the driving seat as they patiently probed for more opportunities. The home side managed to conjure up a number of chances, but Madrid managed to put a fourth past them on the break as Asensio linked up brilliantly with – you guessed it – James Rodriguez to sweep the ball in from a tight angle. Eibar ultimately got their consolation goal through Pena, but it was too little too late in the grand scheme of things.
It was a welcome return to winning ways for Real Madrid, who proved that they can muster up results even without some of their more illustrious players – and more so, that they have a habit of delivering when it matters most. With a few more difficult away encounters to come in the weeks that follow, both on a domestic and continental level, Zidane will hope that his men can channel this confidence into a spell of consistency at such a crucial stage in the season.