Real Madrid‘s first victory of the season came against Alaves, and it was the quality of performance which caught the eye as the Los Blancos camp appears to be full of good news and positivity under Carlo Ancelotti.
The Italian coach elected to use a more experienced forward line-up for the LaLiga Santander opener, with Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all playing very well.
It was, perhaps, the real start of the Belgian’s Real Madrid career, as he looked sharp, lean and ready to succeed.
The real test will be how he stays fit in the coming weeks, but Ancelotti will be undoubtedly delighted at the combination play between Hazard and Benzema, something that has been threatening to come to the fore since 2019.
There wasn’t any real desire to risk Hazard, withdrawing him from the action in the 65th minute, but people had seen enough; this was a player heading in the right direction.
Benzema carried his form from Euro 2020 and the 2020/21 season into the new campaign, scoring twice against Alaves, and it is becoming apparent that in the absence of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he is the bona fide star of the Spanish top flight.
David Alaba‘s league debut was impressive too, although you’d expect nothing less from a player with his experience and talent.
There will be bigger tests ahead for Los Merengues‘ defence, but Alaba looked a very competent solution on the day both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane were unveiled to fans at their new clubs.
The Pintus effect
One further fact of note was how fit Real Madrid looked, with a summer working with fitness coach Antonio Pintus appearing to have facilitated a serious improvement in that regard.
Last term injuries were a key part of the club’s season, but Saturday showed a team that was very fast, intense and strong.
They didn’t wilt in the second half and there weren’t any injuries, plus Hazard even looked sharp and in shape.
Finally, it was understood that Ancelotti would have a difficult season with the lack of improvement in the transfer market, although Florentino Perez will have watched Kylian Mbappe get booed by his own fans in Paris with interest slightly earlier in the day on Saturday.
Yet, in the opening game the weakest area of the team, goalscoring was no longer a problem as Los Blancos hit four, something that has barely been possible in the last two seasons.