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Lopetegui effect; Real Madrid are off to their second-best start in LaLiga for past 8 years.

Real Madrid cruise past CD Leganes with a 4-1 victory at Santiago Bernabeu which makes it their second-best start to LaLiga in the past 8 years. Julen Lopetegui’s men extend their perch on top of the table for matchday 3.

Published By: Dalipinder Singh Sandhu (Bliss)

The Spanish side has kicked off their LaLiga campaign on high notes. Julen Lopetegui has successfully instilled his football ideology in the team and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this side is tactically most promising compared to the recent years.

After the departure of their greatest ever goalscorer, Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid were expected to break their bank on new recruitments to fill in the void left, if any. Julen Lopetegui, however, had a plan which so far has been working well for his side. The possession play football has seen the team in control of the game and is more comfortable as they dynamically shift the play from flanks.

The statistics of Real Madrid’s success in the current season can be compared to the previous 8 seasons. After the first 3 LaLiga matches here is how the club faired. The record was only bettered once by the club in 2016/17.

2010/11

  • Points: 7
  • Goals Scored: 3
  • Goals Against: 1
  • Goal Difference: +2

2011/12

  • Points: 6
  • Goals Scored: 10
  • Goals Against: 3
  • Goal Difference: +7

2012/13

  • Points: 7
  • Goals Scored: 5
  • Goals Against: 3
  • Goal Difference: +2

2013/14

  • Points: 9
  • Goals Scored: 6
  • Goals Against: 2
  • Goal Difference: +4

2014/15

  • Points: 3
  • Goals Scored: 5
  • Goals Against: 6
  • Goal Difference: -1

2015/16

  • Points: 7
  • Goals Scored: 11
  • Goals Against: 0
  • Goal Difference: +11

2016/17**

  • Points: 9
  • Goals Scored: 10
  • Goals Against: 1
  • Goal Difference: +9

2017/18

  • Points: 5
  • Goals Scored: 6
  • Goals Against: 3
  • Goal Difference: +3

2018/19*

  • Points: 9
  • Goals Scored: 10
  • Goals Against: 2
  • Goal Difference: +8
(*ongoing season. **best season.)

Though the team has been performing well, Julen Lopetegui believes that the side needs to be tranquil as the real test awaits in consistency throughout the season. He analyzed the game against CD Leganes and pointed out the team’s understanding of his tactics.

 “We played well aside from a small spell in the first half. They were able to catch us by surprise and get the penalty, we were rushing things a bit. In the second half though, the team played well generally, with goals, chances and conceding very little to the opposition.”

“We’re getting to know each other better as time goes by and we’re able to instill this collective attitude of attacking and defending as a team. The players are understanding what we ask of them very well and they have the ability to improve further. Now we’ll lose a load of players to international duty, but training is a chance to keep growing every day.”

“Ratings are best saved for the end of the season, I’ll focus on the hunger and the passion this group has shown to work hard. They want to work and improve in every training session.”

Karim Benzema produced his best goalscoring stats in LaLiga by netting 4 in 3 games. In previous seasons it took a minimum of 5 games and maximum of 26 games to reach the mark of 4 goals in LaLiga. Julen Lopetegui doesn’t take any credit for his striker’s newly found form.

“We’ll be pleased whoever is scoring. I’ve not converted anyone. Benzema is a wonderful player, it’s all down to him and his goals are helping the team and I’m sure he’ll continue.”

Thibaut Courtois made his debut with Real Madrid last night. Though the former Chelsea and Atletico man couldn’t keep a clean sheet as Guido Carillo converted from the penalty spot in the 24′ minute to cancel the lead by Bale. Julen Lopetegui believes that both the goalkeepers, Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas are equally good.

“We’ve got fantastic options in goal. Keylor played superbly in Girona and he’s been recognized as the best goalkeeper by UEFA. We did not discuss plans. We knew Courtois would play today, we’ll see about the rest. We have great goalkeepers here and we want to find the best solutions, it is fantastic to have competition in any position.”

Real Madrid currently seem to be so comfortable with their play it’s hard to see any other team upsetting them. Julen Lopetegui does not subscribe to this view of untouchables and believes the team needs to work continuously.

“The word untouchable does not exist in football. We have a way of playing, some good alternatives on the pitch and the bench. Sometimes the guy who comes off the bench can make or break the game. We are thrilled with this team and we’re going to keep working.”

Karim Benzema’s first goal of the game was called off for a foul which was later allowed after the review of Video Assistant Referee (VAR). The coach was happy to see the technology helping in correcting the decision.

“VAR was a new thing for us tonight. The technology was brought in to clarify things, and it was a goal. VAR helped fix that error, we all make mistakes. Normally when you see it clearly, that’s it.”

Karim Benzema leads the race for Pichichi award which is a trophy given to the top goalscorer of the LaLiga season. He currently has 4 goals in 3 games and his teammate Gareth Bale is second to him by 3 goals so far. Julen Lopetegui encourages his number 9 to win the Pichichi award and extend his goalscoring tally for the whole season.

“Benzema to win the pichichi? Well, why not? Why shouldn’t he finish with 30 or 40 goals? The most important thing is the team and goals are the work of the whole team.”

Many of the players will now leave for the UEFA Nations League which is a debut competition which would run year long replacing the international friendlies. Real Madrid will be back in LaLiga on Saturday, 15th September 2018 against Athletic Club de Bilbao at 20:45 CET.

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