Five games into this new season, we’ve seen a different brand of football from Real Madrid. More on possession, organised defence, a fully free Gareth Bale and what not. Real Madrid have managed to pick up 13 points from a possible 15 (3W, 1D in League and 1W in Champions League). All players have performed to their best. Now heading into the very first tough fixture of the new season against Athletic Bilbao, is this Rafa Benitez’ first test of the season?

Rafa Benitez has overseen some good teams heading into this game. If not good, tricky can be the other word used. They have threatened the Real Madrid defence as much as they could but thankfully goalkeeper Keylor Navas was there to take care of it. He has amassed 5 clean sheets in as many played. His best performance amongst the games came recently against a mid table Granada who had constantly kept the Madrid defence on their toes. An ageing Pepe and light wonded Raphael Varane were outrun by the pace prowess of Yousseff El Arabi and Isaac Success. Real Madrid tended to concede a goal but luckily enough for Keylor and Real, it was ruled offside hence keeping the record in process of no goals conceded this season. 😄 Keylor has shown some terrific professionalism and sportsmanship heading into this month after a tough end to the month of August due to the imminent arrival of David De Gea. Thankfully for him, the transfer was scrapped due to a technical error and Keylor got a chance he deserved. He has kept his place amongst the starting XI and also among the Madridistas. Now heading into the clash away at San Mames, this is going to be a real test for him considering Madrid’s recent record at San Mames and Bilbao’s attacking approach. Let’s hope KN keeps his 100% record in tact.

Apart from Keylor Navas, talisman Cristiano Ronaldo has also started his scoring spree in amazing fashion. After two sub standard performances in the opening two games, he replied his doubters with 8 goals in the following two games (5+3). He may have gone scoreless in the recent game vs Granada, but witness ably he has brought a slight change to his style of play. He has now started to track back a little, increased his chance creation rate and also has kept his presence felt all over the football pitch. He is also closing on an all time club record of highest number of goals in all competitions, 3 shy of Raul Gonzalez’s record of 323 goals. Ronaldo is now on 321 and all he needs is a hattrick to complete 😉 He now faces a side that didn’t have the best of starts to La Liga but they made a statement against champions Barcelona, smashing them 5-1 on aggregate. Come this wednesday, can Ronaldo make history? Or will his ‘mini drought’ stretch?

Other than the key performers, the team will also be without the services of James Rodriguez, Danilo, Gareth Bale and a doubtful Sergio Ramos. The latter likely to start but has to undergo a fitness test before making Rafa decide whether to let him play or not. The coach is hopeful that the captain will return to full fitness before the crunch game and wants him to be back as soon as possible. And keeping the injuries, Rafa feels there’s a chance to rest Luka Modric. He has played almost every minute of this season and wants to keep him fresh for the latter games. Either of Casemiro or Kovacic might get the nod ahead of him. Jese also looks certain to get minutes after an average but promising start for Lucas Vazquez. But it’s all up to Rafa who plays and who doesn’t.

So we go in full confidence at San Mames in full hope of three points. Defence is clicking, Goalkeeper dominating, attackers attacking, midfield masterminding. Let’s see if we complete the mission.

Vamos a luchar para ganar y mostrar lo que somos