It may not have been a vintage performance in Vitoria but Real Madrid got the job done against a tough Alaves side on Saturday afternoon.
Goals from Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal were enough to see Zinedine Zidane’s men go top of LaLiga at a rain-soaked Mendizorroza in what was a fiery content against the Basque club.
And there were plenty of reasons to be cheerful for Zidane and his team, despite a nerve-racking end the content.
These are the type of matches Madrid should be winning if they are to win the title but they are also the type of matches they could easily have lost only a few weeks ago.
Madrid showed physical and mental strength to overcome one tricky opponents. Had Los Blancos faced this match a month ago the result may well have been different – Madrid lost here 1-0 last season – but the new-look Madrid showed a positiver stubbornness and a determine to win at all costs.
What lacked in creativity and flare was more than made up for by teamwork and determination, qualities that had been missing at times earlier this season and for long parts of last season – even with Zidane at the helm.
The rain poured and the tackles were hard but Madrid showed they are made of strong stuff. The wins over Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will be crucial for Zidane’s men if they are to win the league but titles can also be lost at stadiums such as these.
Where Madrid faltered in Mallorca they improved upon in Vitoria. Changes were still made, with Alphonse Areola coming in for Thibaut Courtois and making a few crucial saves, while players such as Fede. Valverde and Rodrygo were also left on the bench with Gareth Bale starting.
Isco continued his resurrection with another positive performance, one that will give Zidane a welcome selection headache in the upcoming matches, while Marcelo showed that he still has plenty to offer – a crucial block late in the game denying the hosts.
Madrid are top but almost just as importantly they showed they can win ugly and they can win in all circumstances. The improvements continue to flow for Zidane and his men.