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5 Things We Learned As Zinedine Zidane’s ‘B Team’ Do The Business Again

How everyone would love to have reserves like Real Madrid.
Zinedine Zidane made nine changes from the side beaten by Barcelona on Sunday to reignite the La Liga title race.
Barca even heightened the pressure by smashing seven past Osasuna before kick-off at the Riazor but still Real ran riot.
Alvaro Morata arrowed drive opened the scoring inside the first minute and the game should already have been over by the time James Rodriguez made it 2-0 13 minutes later.
Yet, no matter who starts, Real’s weakness remains at the back and it was exposed again when Florin Andone reduced Depor’s arrears.

Sidnei should even had made it 2-2 before Lucas Vazquez restored normal service just before half-time.
The second period was an exhibition of flowing football from Madrid, but they had just two more goals to show for it.
Firstly, James rolled into an empty net after great work from Isco and Morata before Isco rounded off a sensational performance with the fifth, and Casemiro added a sixth.
Here are five things we learned…

1. Madrid again more fluid without ‘BBC’


A training game between Madrid’s first and second XIs would probably fill the Bernabeu and maybe leave the few Galaticos embarrassed.
All of the ‘BBC’ front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and the injured Gareth Bale were left out the squad entirely for a third straight La Liga away game.
Madrid’s reserves haven’t missed a beat, picking up three wins and scoring 12 times in the process.
Moreover, there is a speed and cohesion to their play often missing when the ‘BBC’ are preferred to the youth and invention of Isco, Morata and Marco Asensio.

2. Madrid always concede


Carlo Ancelotti raised a few eyebrows, and not just his own, in Madrid last week when he said ahead of Real’s return leg against his Bayern Munich: “Madrid always score, but they also always concede.”
The Italian was proven right then, and it was the case once more at the Riazor.
Madrid maintained their incredible record of scoring in every game for over a year.
However, they have kept just one clean sheet in their last 15 games and even that was thanks to wayward Alaves finishing at the Bernabeu rather than any solid defending.

3. Queuing up to fill Bale’s boots


The unfortunate Welshman looks set to miss the vast majority of what remains of Real’s season with the eighth calf injury of his Madrid career.
Zidane’s mind over who will replace Bale for the European champions upcoming Champions League semi-finals with Atletico Madrid may not have been made up here, but the Frenchman won’t be short of options.
James, Vazquez and Isco found the back of the net, whilst Asensio shone once more.

4. Varane return timely


Raphael Varane’s return from a hamstring injury couldn’t have come at a better time for Madrid with captain Sergio Ramos suspended after seeing red for the 22nd time in his career in Sunday’s El Clasico and Pepe still sidelined by a pair of broken ribs.
Utility man Nacho has held the fort manfully in various positions throughout the season, but has been exposed in recent weeks when faced with the quality of the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi.
Varane’s availability gives Zidane the chance to field his preferred centre-back partnership of the French international and Ramos for the business end of the season.

5. Only Messi beats Morata


orata took just 55 seconds to find the net, maintaining his record of needing less than 90 minutes per La Liga goal.
Only Messi has a more prolific strike rate than the Spanish international this season.
Morata’s 18th goal of the season means he also overtakes Benzema’s 17 despite playing more than a 1,000 fewer minutes.
The fact Benzema remains first choice is why Morata will not hang around for another season on the bench next season.

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