The Portuguese ended his recent dry run in
this fixture with a hat-trick and his coach
oversaw an impressive tactical display that
leaves Madrid on target to win La Liga.
This was the toughest test yet for Real
Madrid in 2016-17. Zinedine Zidane’s side
came into the derby against Atletico
Madrid unbeaten and on top of La Liga,
but a meeting with Diego Simeone’s side
was always going to be difficult.
R onaldo hat-trick gives Madrid memorable
And it proved to be a fight, as always.
Atletico’s impressive intensity means Real
are often second best in this fixture, with
Simeone’s superb tactics making life even
more challenging. But this time, Zidane
got it just right with his formation and
Ronaldo rolled back the years to leave his
mark on a derby in a way he has been
unable to do in several seasons.
The Portuguese scored the winning penalty
as Madrid overcame the Rojiblancos in the
Champions League final at San Siro in
May, but he had hit just two goals in his
last 11 matches against Atletico.
There were question marks about Zidane,
too. Despite winning the Champions
League in his debut season, he was still
seen by many as a rookie who will soon be
found out. But not on this evidence.
Zidane picked Lucas Vazquez instead of
Karim Benzema and even in the absence of
Casemiro through injury, Madrid were able
to contain Atletico in the first half. With
Lucas on the right and Gareth Bale on the
left as more orthodox wingers, Ronaldo
was deployed as a central striker and that
allowed the Portuguese to concentrate
more on attacking than defending.