Karim Benzema is so essential to Real Madrid (9 goals and 7 assists in 11 La Liga games) that his absence this Saturday in Elche was bound to leave a big hurry. The 33-year-old French striker has been accumulating minutes for many months and Carlo Ancelotti preferred to leave him at rest. To replace him, the Italian coach decided to align Mariano Diaz while the former Lyonnais had not played a second this season. And the Dominican gave him reason (see elsewhere).

Luckily for the Merengues, Benzema isn’t the only one walking on the water lately. Vinicius Junior perfectly took over from his partner and commanded the attack by brilliantly signing the two goals for his team. The first of a cross strike from the left on a heel from Mariano (22nd), the second at the end of the race after a service from Luka Modric (73rd). With seven goals, the Brazilian is now the second best finisher in the Championship, he was however snubbed by Tite for the Seleçao rally in November.

Elche finished at ten after Raul Guti’s expulsion on the hour mark, but Toni Kroos’ teammates still found a way to scare themselves. The German international offered the 2-1 goal by swinging his recovery directly on the head of the former Marseillais Dario Benedetto, Pere Milla would recover the leather and adjust Courtois (86th). An error of no consequence for Real Madrid which recovers the first place with the benefit of a better goal difference than Real Sociedad.

Mariano Diaz has not often had the opportunity to speak since his return to the White House in 2018 after his prolific stint in Lyon. It must be said that the position of number 9 is concreted by Karim Benzema and that the Dominican has never made his hole. Not used once by Carlo Ancelotti before the trip to Elche, Mariano seized his chance this Saturday. His game lit up in the 22nd minute when he turned a serve from Casemiro in the center line into an assist for Vinicius from a brilliant heel into one touch.

The 28-year-old striker once again stood out four minutes later. Thrown deep in the right lane, he powerfully resisted the return of a defender before wiping out Kiko Casilla with a fake flashes in the middle of the race. But he finally found the small net in a tight angle. Always so combative, Mariano remained on the meadow until the final whistle.

Ref: https://www.lequipe.fr