Ronaldo returned from his three-game Liga ban with a splash and linked up superbly with both the Welsh winger and the French forward to set up a memorable victory at Schalke."We have built the house," Carlo Ancelotti said. "Now we have to decorate it."
The Italian coach was referring to the firm foundations laid at Real Madrid since he took over from Jose Mourinho in the summer. And on Tuesday night, three artists added expression to efficiency to make Madrid marvel in its quest for the prize they once called its own.
For many years now, it has been all about La Decima - a 10th title in Europe's premier club competition. Jose Mourinho came close, leading Real to three successive semi-finals in the Champions League. "That was not at all bad," Ancelotti added this week. But it wasn't enough.
Mourinho's Madrid saw its Decima dream end against Bayern Munich in 2012 and versus Borussia Dortmund last season. Real has traditionally toiled when facing German rivals, and the Spanish press even called it a curse. On Tuesday, the curse was crushed.
Schalke is no Bayern and no BVB, of course, but Madrid made a statement Tuesday as Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo ran riot in Gelsenkirchen and Real ran out 6-1 winners.
Quite an exhibition. And even though Klaas-Jan Huntelaar hit a fine consolation in added time, it barely took the shine off of what was a sublime show from Madrid. All it meant was that Iker Casillas conceded for the first time in over 950 minutes to bring that particular record to an end.
But this Madrid side is chasing many more - and this was the 27th game unbeaten in a streak which is already the second best in the club's illustrious history.
In the meantime, Ancelotti's side is also top of La Liga and face fierce foes Barcelona in the final of the Copa del Rey next month. It's all coming together for the capital club, and if Madrid's 'BBC' trio of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano continue to express itself as it did Tuesday, the decoration Ancelotti speaks of will arrive in the form of trophies.
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