This was a game Real Madrid absolutely had to win. Shamed by their damaging derby defeat at Atletico last Saturday and criticised for Cristiano Ronaldo’s birthday celebrations the same night, the Santiago Bernabeu outfit defeated Deportivo La Coruna by 2-0
There were some timid jeers along with applause as the team was announced over the loud speaker and goalkeeper Iker Casillas was booed by some supporters in the opening minutes following his blunders in the 4-0 loss, which he later claimed had not been a mistake.
Madrid started slowly and both Asier Illarramendi and Toni Kroos sat deeply in front of Nacho and Raphael Varane, a partnership so brutally exposed a week ago. Gareth Bale, meanwhile, was much more involved in defensive duties than usual.
It was a cautious approach against a decimated Deportivo La Coruna side but understandable given Madrid’s derby debacle at the Vicente Calderon.
Ronaldo, a pale shadow of the impressive 2014 version in recent weeks, was more lively in this one, firing over the top with an overhead kick from the edge of the box (though the whistle had already gone for a Depor goal-kick) and also blasting a fierce drive against the bar.