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Ronaldo back in the groove for Madrid - but it's time to start Morata ahead of Benzema

Alvaro Morata did it again. Seven days after emerging from the bench to hit a late winner for Real Madrid at home to Athletic Club, the Spain striker came on this time to net the third goal for Los Blancos away to Alaves. And, on this form, he surely deserves a starting spot.

Ronaldo hits hat trick as Madrid wins 4-1 at Alaves

The best news for Zinedine Zidane was Cristiano Ronaldo's return to form in front of goal. The Portuguese had only scored four times in the current campaign ahead of this match, but hit a hat trick to resume normal service in the Basque Country. "I am happy for his goals," the coach said afterwards.

Ronaldo reached 350 career league goals in the process and added another match ball to his growing collection. His first came from a dubious penalty as Gareth Bale's free kick appeared to hit Deyverson on the head (and not on the elbow), his second a fine finish from distance (albeit with a slight deflection), and his third a clinical effort after an exchange with Marcelo in the box.

By that time, he had also missed a penalty and, with little movement from Madrid's front three in the second half, it took the introduction of Morata for Real to make the game safe. The 24-year-old latched on to Marcelo's long pass to lob Fernando Pacheco and make it 3-1 before Ronaldo added another.

There were problems for Madrid in defense as Danilo gave the ball away for the Alaves goal, which also included a mix-up between Keylor Navas and Raphael Varane, while Pepe was withdrawn with an injury which will be a concern for Zidane.

In the meantime, Ronaldo was also guilty of losing the ball in midfield on a number of occasions, while Bale's final ball was missing once again and Karim Benzema remains a pale shadow of his best version. Once the Frenchman departed and Morata came on in his place, Madrid's improvement was all too apparent.

Ronaldo reaches 350 career goals

Morata and Lucas Vazquez give Madrid extra energy, fight, spirit and commitment in attack, pressing and tracking back much more than their illustrious teammates. However, Bale, Benzema and Cristiano appear untouchable for Zidane.

That is unlikely to change too much — especially where Bale and Ronaldo are concerned. Those two will be in the team come rain or shine because that is just the way things are at Real. It is what they want, it is what Zidane wants and what Florentino Perez wants.