Real Madrid 5-1 Deportivo: Ronaldo hat-trick continues Los Blancos revival

Real Madrid continued their La Liga resurgence after their early season struggles thanks to goals from Angel Di Maria, Pepe and a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo.

With one eye on their Champions League clash with Ajax in midweek, Jose Morinho made four changes to the side that claimed Los Blancos’ first away win of the season against Rayo Vallecano last week.

Sami Khedira returned to the midfield in place of Xabi Alonso and the German showed his early fervour at a recall by out-muscling his opponent in midfield to play in Cristiano Ronaldo for the first real chance of the game after ten minutes, but Portugal international struck his shot too close to Dani Aranzubia in the Depor goal.

Alvaro Arbeloa dropped to the bench as Sergio Ramos went to right-back to make way for Raphael Varane, and the young Frenchman will be disappointed with how easily he allowed Riki to skip away and poke past Iker Casillas to give Depor a shock lead after 15 minutes.

However the hosts were level less than ten minutes later when Di Maria beat Manuel Pablo on the right before the veteran brought him down right on the edge of the box. Referee Miguel Angel Ayza Gamez deemed the incident to have taken place inside the area, and Ronaldo stepped up to calmly stroke home the equaliser.?

Jose Luis Oltra’s they had lost on their last six visits to the Santiago Bernabeu, their last victory coming way back in 2004, and never really looked like getting back into the game after an encouraging start.

36-year-old Pablo was made to endure a torrid time, with Di Maria and Ronaldo swapping flanks as Madrid repeatedly hit long diagonal passes in behind the former Spain international. And it was another ball inside the full-back that saw Di Maria put the home side ahead.

With Mesut Ozil coming returning to the side for the injured Michael Essien, Luka Modric took up a deeper role than he did last week and the two combined before the Croatian played a perfectly weighted pass inside Pablo for Di Maria. The Argentinian saw his initial effort come back off the post, but followed up to head home from close range.

Ronaldo grabbed his second goal of the evening five minute later, heading into an empty net after Ramos saw his shot parried up into the air by Aranzubia.

Kaka also returned to the squad after netting a hat-trick in a midweek friendly against Millonarios on Wednesday, and he replaced Ozil to make his first appearance league of the season at half-time after the German’s work rate was deemed unsatisfactory by Mourinho. It wasn’t a vintage performance from the Brazilian but the recall will no doubt be a confident boost for the 30-year-old who looked to be on his way out of Madrid, especially when coupled with his return to the international fold this past week.

Xabi Alonso, who was the only outfield player at Madrid to have played every minute of the season so far prior to this evening, replaced Modric on the hour mark, and less than ten minutes later the Spain international’s free-kick in-swinging found Pepe unmarked to make it four.

Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with eight minutes remaining, converting his second spot kick of the night after Kaka’s attempted cross had struck Evaldo’s hand inside the area.

Mourinho spoke of the importance of achieving three straight wins for the first time this season ahead of tonight’s game and despite still sitting eight points behind rivals Barcelona, Real Madrid’s return to form will provide them a well needed confidence boost ahead of next weekend’s Clasico.

TEAM NEWS: Real Madrid duo Alonso and Benzema dropped for Deportivo clash

Xabi Alonso - Real Madrid

Xabi Alonso – Real Madrid

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho makes four alterations to his line-up for Sunday night’s Primera Division clash with Deportivo, with Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema the most high-profile casualties.

Mesut Ozil is recalled at the expense of Angel Di Maria and that sees Luka Modric drop into defensive midfield to play alongside the returning Sami Khedira, as Alonso and Michael Essien are both removed from the starting XI.

Elsewhere, Sergio Ramos moves out to right-back to accomodate Raphael Varane at centre-half, with regular Alvaro Arbeloa the man to make way for his international team-mate. Up front, Gonzalo Higuain is chosen to start ahead of Benzema, despite the French striker scoring during Madrid’s 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano on Monday night.

Meanwhile, Deportivo boss Jose Luis Oltra has also made changes, one of which is enforced, with Ze Castro replacing Aythami in the centre of defence, after the latter picked up a knock in training during the week.

Alex Bergantinos also comes in to the Deportivo midfield in place of Jesus Vazquez, while Oltra has opted to rest Juan Valeron for tonight’s match, and has picked Pizzi to start ahead of the veteran attacking midfielder. Riki retains his place in attack for the away side, with on-loan striker Nelson Oliveira restricted to a place on the bench.

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Ramos, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo; Modric, Khedira; Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo; Higuain.

Deportivo (4-2-3-1): Aranzubia; Manuel Pablo, Ze Castro, Marchena, Evaldo; Bergantinos, Dominguez; Pizzi, Aguilar, Gama; Riki.

Benzema happy with Real Madrid progress

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has insisted that he remains as confident as ever, and is happy at the progress he is making.

The France international has only started two of the Blancos‘ five Liga matches so far, but the striker claims he is working hard to push for a regular berth in the squad.

“Is it necessary for a striker to score goals for the season to go well? I felt very well in recent games,” Benzema told AS.

“I feel that I’m making progress and my legs are getting better. I’m very happy. Admittedly, I was happy to play 90 minutes twice with France [against Finland and Belarus].

“It is important to play several games in a row. Besides, I’m working hard to get ready.

“I’ve never lost confidence. I’ve always been sure of myself and my game. When you don’t score, the environment tries to contaminate you, but that does not affect me.

“I’m a striker and I love to score, but everybody knows that I [also] enjoy it when I can give assists.”

Real Madrid encounter Deportivo La Coruna later on Sunday. Kick-off is at 19:50CET.

Real Madrid – Deportivo Betting Preview: Why Blancos will score but not keep a clean sheet

Having endured an uncomfortable period following back-to-back away defeats at Getafe and Sevilla respectively, Real Madrid finally got their first win on the road this season by beating Rayo Vallecano on Monday night.

Their next match sees the champions host a Deportivo side who lost their unbeaten status also on Monday, going down 2-0 at home to Sevilla.

This is a match that Madrid would expect to win comfortably, and the odds reflect this with pricing Los Blancos at 11/100 (1.11) to record a win. Deportivo, meanwhile, can be backed at 20/1 (21.00), while the draw is offered at 15/2 (8.50).

Despite the odds being heavily stacked against them, the Galicians are not a bad side, and have reinforced their squad intelligently on their return to the top flight of Spanish football.

Given the city of La Coruna’s relative proximity to Portugal, it is perhaps hardly surprising that they have reinforced with players from their neighbouring country, namely strikers Nelson Oliveira and Pizzi both joining in the summer and scoring twice already.

While Madrid should win the match, there is no reason why Depor cannot score at the Bernabeu, something they have done in four of their last five trips to the venue. The hosts have already conceded goals to Valencia, Getafe, and Sevilla in the league, with each one of the sides scoring at least once from a set-piece.

Madrid’s apparent inability to defend free kicks and corners could well be exploited by a Depor side who are noticeably tall; Riki, Nelson Oliveira and Abel Aguilar some of the more notable players who are over 6 feet in height.

The price of 13/10 (2.30) for both teams to score then looks to offer serious value, as Madrid should have no problem in finding the net, so it is well worth some serious consideration.

For a value bet, try backing a correct score of 3-1 to Madrid, available at 10/1 (11.00), with this bet paying out in two of the last five games between the sides at the Bernabeu.

Sign up with for a free £25 bet and back Phil’s selections for this match

Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid. You can also follow Phil on Twitter.