On Saturday Real Madrid played host to a struggling Hércules at the Santiago Bernabéu. Real Madrid was presented with the opportunity to close the gap between them and Barcelona to four points, albeit, the blaugrana plays on Sunday but a game that may prove a tricky affair for the Catalans.
The first half began quickly for the whites as the first chance of the match fell within six minutes of kick-off; however, Di María’s effort went wide of the post after some good defending by Abraham Paz. Real Madrid would knock the ball around in an attempt to break down the Hércules defence but to no avail until the 24th minute when Benzema struck. A beautifully weighted pass by Özil opened up the Hercules defence, playing in Arbeloa on the right and his cross was met by Benzema, who had the simplest task of side-footing it home. Three minutes later and Real Madrid had a glorious chance at goal, as Arbeloa again with a magnificent cross for Adebayor, who rose beautifully to head towards goal but Calatayud would deny the Togolese hit-man with a spectacular save, tipping it over the cross bar. The game would go into a slight lull and it took a lovely volley from Thomert to call Casillas into action in the 35th minute, which was followed up a minute later with another great effort by the visitors, this time from Kiko but Casillas managed to tip it over the bar. Not much more would happen in the first half and Real Madrid would go in a goal to the good at the break. At the start of the second half, Adebayor had the opportunity to double the lead but saw his strike come back off the post. The game would remain 1-0 until the 56th minute when Benzema doubled the lead with a wonderful individual goal; he cut inside from the by-line and then hit a low drive past Calatayud, into the far corner.
The whites can now fully focus on their preparations for the upcoming game against Lyon and today’s win is certainly a massive boost for them.
Man of the match was an easy call tonight as Benzema was impressive and continued his recent fine form and new found confidence with a brace. However, it is worth noting that Arbeloa also had a solid game- was constantly up and down the right, provided the assist for Benzema’s first goal, solid in defence, drew fouls when he went forward and suffocated much of the opposition’s plays coming down the right. Calatayud had an excellent game for the visitors, denying Real Madrid on many occasions and had it not been for him, could have found themselves on the end of a thrashing.
The win sees Real Madrid climb to within four points of league leaders Barcelona. Additionally, the game saw Hércules’ losing streak on the road stretched to seven games and has also seen the visitors gone 10 consecutive games without scoring a road goal. A win for Málaga tomorrow will see Hércules fall rock bottom.