Karim Benzema Real Madrid 2018-19

Bale & Benzema show there IS life after Ronaldo at Madrid

Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema continued their impressive run of form to kick off the new season by bagging crucial goals in Real Madrid's ousting of Leganes. 

Indeed, the duo's superb performances displayed once again that there's plenty of life at Madrid despite Cristiano Ronaldo's high-profile departure to Juventus.

To start with Bale, the man who joined Madrid five years ago to the day, wasted little time in marking the occasion by blasting home a sublime, athletic volley from 10 yards on 17 minutes.

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Following a lovely switch of play by Sergio Ramos to Dani Carvajal on the right, Bale's decision to hold his run and let the Leganes backline collapse towards their goal enabled him to latch onto Carvajal's cutback to unleash his shot and give Madrid the lead.

Their ascendancy wouldn't last long, however, for Casemiro's sloppy challenge on Javier Eraso handed Leganes a penalty. New signing from Southampton Guido Carrillo then coolly converted his spot kick past debutant Thibaut Courtois.

Julen Lopetegui needn't have worried, though, for Benzema stepped up to restore their lead on his way to bagging a second-half double. His instinctive movement and ability to outfox his marker served him beautifully for his first, as he outmaneuvered and outmuscled Jonathan Silva to steer his header home expertly. Despite initially being ruled out, the goal was subsequently allowed to stand after it was proved obvious the Frenchman didn't initiate the contact.

His second encapsulated his class, as he exchanged a slick one-two with Luka Modric on the edge of the box, before scoring with a perfectly-placed finish. Remarkably, by finding the back of the net vs. Leganes, the Frenchman has now netted against all of the 33 La Liga teams he's faced.

While many questioned whether the duo could step out of Ronaldo's shadow, they're emphatically proving why they're ready to be the main men at Santiago Bernabeu. 

Now, with seven goals between them in Los Merengues' first three Liga games, they're enjoying their best ever start to a season whilst playing alongside one another in their five years in Madrid. Who needs Ronaldo indeed!

Parlaying intelligence, power, technique and subtlety, they really do look unstoppable at present. 

And Lopetegui clearly has full confidence in both players, previously explaining: “The Bale we have now is committed, content, wanting to have a great season. He is training very well, happy, and we are so happy with him. This has only just begun. 

“With Benzema we are happy. He's trained very well, he is in great form, excited and enthusiastic. Surely he will help us in all facets, not only with his goals. He contributes a lot to the team and we are happy for what he does.”

Sharing the offensive burden, coalescing brilliantly and happy under Lopetegui's more team-oriented guidance, the Bale and Benzema axis are making the transition to life without the legendary Ronaldo rather seamless.