Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo made sure to leave his mark with a second-half double to lift his club to another away win. Los Blancos won 3-2 at Real Betis after trailing 1-0 early on. This precious victory leaves Real with a considerable advantage over bitter rivals Barcelona who are in second place but have been inconsistent throughout the league season.
There are a number of factors behind the rise of Los Blancos in the domestic championship ahead of Barca. Star player Ronaldo is having a great season and has scored an incredible 32 goals in just 26 league matches. The Portuguese forward will be hoping to win his first La Liga title and has been unstoppable in the domestic competition. His goals have been crucial in leading Real to the top of the table.
Ronaldo’s heroics are one of the reasons behind this successful domestic run but below are a few other important conditions which helped create the suitable environment for Real to assume leadership in Spain:
1) Away Form: Real’s players have shown a tremendous consistency away from the Santiago Bernabeu while recording 11 wins in 13 matches and managing a total of 34 points. In comparison, Real have amassed 36 points at home. Los Blancos suffered a single defeat away from Madrid.
2) Prolific Attack: Real’s players have scored a total of 88 goals in the league which is 15 more than Barca (the Catalans played one less match). Ronaldo scored 32 goals but both Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema have scored their fair share of goals. Higuain has scored 17 goals in 24 league matches while Benzema’s tally is 13 goals in 22 matches.
3) Team Work: While Barca might have more talented individuals, Real’s players have been performing more as a team with Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil contributing 13 and 12 assists respectively in the Spanish league.
4) Defensive Ability: Real’s defensive line is the second best in La Liga, behind Barca only who have conceded only 19 goals. Madrid have conceded 23 goals. Real’s ability to combine a productive attack with a solid defensive wall has helped the club reach the top of the standings.
5) Jose Mourinho: The controversial Portuguese coach has kept a low profile this season compared to last year (his first in Spain) and to his previous seasons in both Italy and England. Mourinho has focused more on motivating his players, preparing for opponents and getting the best out of the players at his disposal.
While Mourinho can be annoying for many fans (and not just the Barca supporters) with his theatrics and statements, he remains determined to overcome Barca in Spain and eventually Europe. It is no secret that Mourinho has always wanted to beat Barca and the Portuguese probably counts his European success over the Catalans while with Inter as one of his best achievements.
Behind Mourinho’s strong feelings and dislike for Barca is most likely his belief that he deserved to be hired as the coach of the Catalan club a few years ago. He takes it personal whenever Real lose to Barca. The Portuguese often blames referees and speaks of other conspiracies when Barca win but he is now closing in on a precious league title.
The current run in La Liga has Mourinho talking about extending his stay in Madrid only a couple of months after he was growing frustrated with the criticism from the media and some of the Real supporters, in particular after clashes with Barca which usually finished in a defeat for Los Blancos.