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Zinedine Zidane will have gone home after Wednesday night’s 6-0 stomping of Galatasaray with a wry smile on his face. Real have got their Champions League campaign back on track with back to back victories and currently sit level on points at the top of the La Liga table, only second to rivals Barcelona on goal difference. 

It seems like the Frenchman has steadied a leaking and creaking ship that stumbled its way through last season with uncertainty and inadequacy, only to be followed by a summer of transfer turmoil.

Cast your gaze back to this point last season and Real had already suffered four defeats from their first eleven league games, one of which led to the sacking of Julien Lopetegui after a 5-1 battering at the hands of Barça. 

Zidane finding answers

Fast forward exactly a year and just how different it is. Real have only endured one defeat in the league so far, coming at the hands of a tricky Mallorca side back in mid-October. The game was a frustrating affair, punctuated by the team not finding solutions to the problems stockaded in front of them, rather than any fundamental discord. 

Since then Zidane has shaken things up tactically and in his first-team selections. The manager’s shift to a 4-3-3 formation has reaped immediate rewards with Real remaining undefeated in five since that solitary loss to Mallorca, both at home and abroad.

Zidane experimented with the likes of James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale on the right flank towards the start of the season and Luka Jovic in a front two pairing with Karim Benzema on occasion. However, the Frenchman has stuck to his guns as of late. 

In a front three fulcrum of Hazard, Benzema and Brazilian wonderkid Rodrygo, Real Madrid look like they finally have a consistency up front to be able to unlock teams. 

A three-way title fight?

In contrast, Real’s immediate rivals for the La Liga crown, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, are currently going through a crisis of conscience that has allowed Real to creep back into the picture. 

It’s seen the odds on the title race shift dramatically. Although the odds on Real after their recent run of form have dropped slightly it’s seen the bookies boost Barcelona’s odds, while Atlético, only one point off the top, remain third favourites. 

It means that for the first time in a long while there is definitive value for backing any of the three favourites. According to betting experts BetBlazers, it makes sense to choose a betting a site and a welcome bonus that suits your needs. They’ve helpfully compiled a comprehensive list where you can compare betting sites to best maximise your profit. 

When it rains it pours

As the odds demonstrate, it’s certainly not Real’s to run away with just yet. Zidane has two problems yet to fix. The first is how to adequately balance his squad that is packed with both new faces and established generals. The likes of Luka Jovic have arrived to little effect and been given meagre opportunities, while outcast Galacticos Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez have been surprising additions to the first eleven, only to be cast aside once again. 

The problem the manager must fix more hastily is how to finish off the more difficult sides. Now he has decided on his preferred front three he must aim to pick the lock quicker and more effectively.

Real have showed that when they score early they can dismantle sides with relative ease, as was the case with the 6-0 win against Galatasaray, the 5-0 victory over Leganés and a 4-2 thriller against Granada. 

Where the points tally will make all the difference come the end of the season will be against the likes of Real Betis who aim to shut up shop and frustrate. The Sevillans earned a point at the Bernabéu last week and denied Los Blancos the chance to move into top spot. 

Adam Grimshaw