It’s amazing how things can change in the space of a month in football. Real Madrid recorded just two wins in November and were heading for a crisis after back-to-back losses to Deportivo Alaves and Shakhtar Donetsk at the start of December.
However, Zinedine Zidane's side has since turned their season around and are currently on a five-game winning streak in all competitions. They have secured qualification to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League and are moving up the La Liga table.
Sunday’s 3-1 win against Elche was Los Blancos’ fourth straight win in the La Liga and it has moved them level on points with Atletico Madrid at the top of the table. It should be noted that Atletico have two games in hand.
For a club that started the season poorly, Real Madrid have gradually made progress and are close to returning to their best form. Just two weeks ago, the Blancos were outside the top-four but now they are firmly in the title race.
Karim Benzema pulling the strings for Real Madrid
Many people were shocked when Zinedine Zidane suggested Karim Benzema is the best French striker in history. While the Real Madrid manager may have been exaggerating, there is no question about how much of an impact Benzema has had on Madrid's fortunes.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Juventus two and a half years ago, the French forward has been the one carrying the team in attack. His goals ensured the Los Blancos won the La Liga last season and he’s leading their charge to retain the title in this year's campaign.
On Sunday, Benzema was once again on song as Real Madrid beat Eibar 3-1. The 33-year-old scored the opening goal before setting up two others for Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez as Zidane’s side secured three important points away from home. The Real Madrid manager was full of praise for his player.
"Benzema is a match-winner because what he's doing is on a different level, not just because of his goals," Zidane said after the game, as quoted by Goal.
"I always repeat myself, saying the same thing about Karim. It's not only his goals, he's the focal point of our game. He's very important for us and when he scores, he's a very important for our team," added Zidane.
Two-horse race in the La Liga
In a week in which Barcelona dropped points again after their 2-2 draw with Valencia, Real Madrid and Atletico could make the La Liga a two-horse race.
The two Madrid clubs are currently eight points above the Blaugrana, who have now dropped to fifth in the league table. Considering Barcelona’s own inconsistencies, the gap could widen further in the coming weeks.
Ronald Koeman’s side appears to have taken one step forward and two steps backward. There are more games to be played and things could change as the games will come thick and fast during the festive period.
Atletico Madrid are currently in the driving seat, and should they win their two games in hand, they will open a six-point gap at the top of the league table. For now, though, Real Madrid are closing in and have proven that they will challenge Simeone’s side to the wire.Published 21 Dec 2020, 22:03 IST