The picture illustrates better than anything the frustration that Capello must have been feeling over the past few weeks and his relief at getting a positive result without having to rely on the usual suspects. The victory becomes doubly important when added to the fact that both Barcelona and Sevilla lost their games this weekend, pushing Real Madrid to within two points of the leaders and level with Barcelona (who have a game in hand).
The most effective piece in the new puzzle was the performance of both Gago and Diarra in midfield. If this is more than just a one-off, there is little prospect of Emerson making it back into the side, barring injuries. The Argentine midfielder completed 53 out of 57 passes and Diarra put behind his recent discomfiture at being left out of the side to cut out much of Zaragoza's midfield and even getting forward on occasion.
The makeshift back four included youngster Miguel Torres making his debut at right back and ostracised Raúl Bravo at left back, and both had a relatively uneventful game, at least until the final minutes. Reyes had probably his best game in a Real Madrid shirt, and Robinho took charge of the other wing after Raúl had to be substituted 12 minutes into the game. It looks like the captain will be out for 2 to 3 weeks, further depleting old guard involvement in upcoming games.
Up front van Nistelrooy clearly works better off Higuaín than Ronaldo, and the Dutchman only had to tap in Real's only goal after a pass from the other Argentine in the side. Given that Beckham won't play for Real again and Ronaldo looks to be on his way out, the make-up of the team is unlikely to change much in the next few games. Sergio Ramos (suspended) will replace Torres at right back, so Salgado is unlikely to get much of a look-in. Roberto Carlos will take up the left flank after he recovers (it's doubtful Bravo will make enough of an impression in the next four weeks to keep him out). Guti and Raúl will find it hard to displace Gago and Higuaín/Robinho, at least on a permanent basis, so I expect some rotations here.
| Highlights|| Match report|