Real Madrid got another three points on the board in the Champions League with a 2-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk at the Bernabeu, but it was far from the free-flowing attacking football that head coach Carlo Ancelotti vowed to bring to the club.
The Bernabeu crowd even booed their team on occasion during the Group D encounter, which leaves Real Madrid top and Shakhtar bottom. Los Blancos began the campaign in spectacular fashion, but there have been diminishing returns for Ancelotti's side and frustrations are starting to grow.
The home crowd has been patient this season, holding back the whistles in recent disappointments against Villarreal, Sheriff and Osasuna, but not on Wednesday with a large section of the Bernabeu making their discontent felt until Karim Benzema found the winning goal.
Of course it had to be the No.9, the talisman Benzema, who brought Real Madrid to and past the milestone of 1,000 European Cup goals. There's no doubt about it, with Cristiano Ronaldo long gone, he is the main man now. That said, he is being ably supported by Vinicius who has taken a big leap this season and now has seven assists.
Fede Valverde has now missed three games with injury and his absence is being felt. Without him, Los Blancos' build-up play lacks a certain something and the veteran trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric don't look the same as before.
It is very strange the way that Belgian winger Eden Hazard has been reduced to a bit-part player, consigned to the odd short run out here and there. There's no question that Vinicius is ahead of him on the left on merit, but surely he could find some minutes on the right? Perhaps he doesn't impress in training but what's certain is that Ancelotti doesn't fancy the former Chelsea star right now and that's a lot of talent to be left on the bench week in week out.
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