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Three games, three wins and ten goals scored. Real Madrid has started the season brilliantly and while there are still some improvements to make, the most noticeable improvement since Lopetegui’s arrival is the form of both Benzema and Bale.

When Ronaldo left for Juventus—because of his fallout with the club president, Florentino Perez—many were worried about where the 50+ goals from Ronaldo would come and who could possibly score them (or at least half of them). Fans were, for the most part, urging Perez to spend big and try to lure stars such as Neymar, M’bappe, Kane, etc., but he refused to spend frivolously and placed his faith in his current star-studded squad, whilst bringing back a former youth teamer, Mariano—who spent a year at Lyon, where he had a hand in 27 goals; scoring 21 and assisting 6.

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Florentino’s “gamble” seems—for the time being—to have paid off. It has propelled Bale and Benzema.

Ronaldo is a brilliant player, there is no question about that. However, his presence in the team had often times limited the role of Benzema and Bale to mere spectators and/or playmakers. Now with Cristiano moving on, both players look more confident in front of goal and are clearly no longer burdened with the task of just passing the ball off to their former teammate—who would sometimes throw a tantrum if they didn’t—instead of having a go at goal themselves. They have so far had a hand in eight of the club’s league goals this season; Benzema has 4 goals and Bale has 3 goals and an assist.

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Benzema and Bale have lived in Ronaldo’s shadow for too many years (9 and 5 years respectively). If they can both stay healthy for the majority of the season and given the rate at which they’ve started, it isn’t inconceivable that they could both score 30 goals each in all competitions. Thus justifying that Perez’s composure during the transfer window was prudent.