After being the first choice striker at Madrid and favoured by Mourinho, Gonazalo Higuain got a sharp shock on his return from a lengthy lay off last season, as Karim Benzema had played him out of the team. During Higuain’s absence, Benzema took his chance, and this season especially his form has been scintillating. How ironic then that the same situation that caused Higuain to lose his place in the first team has almost repeated itself again this season, but with Benzema as the injured player, and Higuain keeping his place in the side purely on merit. It would be pretty hard to bench a player who has just scored his third hat trick in four games, and Higuain has done just that, being unlucky not to get a fourth goal against Betis before being taken off.
Obviously the age old cliché of it being a fantastic dilemma for any manager to have is true here, and Mourinho must now be thanking his special stars that both Higuain and Benzema have come through for him and now look like truly world class strikers. It is unfortunate for both that the trademark 4-3-3 that is so favoured by Mourinho only allows for one central striker, and for the vast majority of the time, one of them must be content with warming the bench.
When looking at what each player can offer the team, it is certainly true to say that the biggest galactico of them all Ronaldo prefers to play with Benzema in terms of his goal return and the role he plays in the team, with a slightly more selfish approach being the one taken by Ronaldo. When Higuain plays however, the role of Ronaldo becomes much less focused on himself and more on the team, with the amount of assists outweighing the goals he scores. Evidently either approach works for both Ronaldo and Madrid, with the star winger being capable of doing pretty much anything and playing with pretty much any player.
Another major positive for Real is the continued form of Kaka, with the Brazilian now cementing the suggestions he is finally back to his best with a brilliant goal and again all round solid performance. The combination of Ozil and Kaka is one that seems to be working for Madrid, and although it leaves Di Maria on the bench, it cannot be denied that in recent weeks Madrid have been slowly improving after a questionable period that resulted in defeat at the3 Ciudad de Valencia and a goalless draw away to Racing Santander.
After clear the air talks between Mourinho and the squad, and a team BBQ, Real now look to be a major force to be reckoned with all over the field, evidently more in tune with both their manager and each other. The creativity and extra spark that has been provided by Kaka has been more than a little bit responsible for their resurgence in form recently and when Di Maria came off the bench in the second half he provided the two assists for the final two goals showing that Real have class in abundance. With Sahin on his way to returning to the first team, there is certainly a wealth of talent in the Real Madrid side, and perhaps more so than at any other time during Mourinho’s tenure there.
Real now face a tough tie in the Champions League against Lyon before an away trip to Andalucía where they face money boys Malaga who lost again on the weekend to surprise package and joint league leaders Levante last time out. Mourinho’s men will be looking to continue their excellent form, and really give Barcelona something to worry about before the Classico meeting in December. With Barcelona having lost Pique to yet another injury and Real looking stronger than ever, that is not such a distant possibility anymore.
Written by Becky Knight