Quite a bit of the unknown was swirling around the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu only weeks ago, following Real Madrid’s 5-1 thrashing at the hands of rival Barcelona. Santiago Solari stepped into a caretaker role as manager, and has brought some positive results.
Now in arguably the squad’s toughest test since his appointment, the 42-year-old coach delivered yet again on Sunday evening at Celta Vigo.
Los Blancos secured a 4-2 victory at the Balaídos, maintaining their position in sixth. The top of the table is as close as can be entering the international break, as Real are only four points back of first-place Barcelona. One aspect that has benefitted Solari has been the overall response from several players in the line-up since the coaching switch.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring, netting his fifth league goal of the campaign. Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos were both effective in the midfield, and helped to carry that advantage into the half-time break for the visitors.
Karim Benzema has now scored as many league goals (5) as he did all of last season.
— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) November 11, 2018
An unfortunate own-goal for centre-back Gustavo Cabral put the home squad in a deeper hole, but Celta were not about to give up just yet.
Hugo Mallo clawed one back five minutes later, and momentum seemed to be building. That was until a familiar face put things out of reach. Sergio Ramos’ clever strike from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute would be a decisive blow.
| GOAL! |
Ketchup with that, Sergio Alvarez? 🍟
— Eleven Sports (@ElevenSports_UK) November 11, 2018
Dani Ceballos and Brais Méndez added goals in stoppage-time, as Real Madrid earned their fourth consecutive victory across all competitions.
Solari does not appear to be changing much tactically, utilising the same 4-3-3 formation that has been in place during the past few years. But he is getting the players to put in maximum effort and believe in one another. Celta finish the weekend in 14th place on 14 points.
The international break will give both sides some rest in the coming days. Real Madrid travel to face Eibar on November 24, with Celta visiting Real Sociedad on November 26.