MADRID: Real Madrid must match the intensity of a stunning first 45 minutes urged coach Zinedine Zidane after snapping a four-game draw streak with a 6-1 rout at Real Betis on Saturday.
Zidane’s men surrendered top spot on goal difference to city rivals Atletico Madrid with three consecutive La Liga draws, along with a point at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, prior to the international break.
However, a two-week layoff seemed to do the European champions a world of good as they stormed into a 4-0 lead before half-time to blow Betis away.
“After four draws we had to have a game like this. We played with the necessary intensity to win,” said Zidane.
“There are no small teams (in this league). This is a difficult place to come but we started strongly and it is tough for the opponent when we play like that.”
Zidane had slammed his side’s slow starts earlier this season, in particular in dropping points at home to Basque minnows Eibar last time out.
“They are intelligent, good players. They know we have to start in that manner and they did well.
“When we play with the intensity required it makes it very difficult for the opponent.
“We have worked on that, but we need to be consistent. This match is a reference point.”
Victory took Real back level with Atletico at the top after Los Rojiblancos went one better in a 7-1 thrashing of Granada earlier on Saturday.
And Zidane insists big wins for Atletico, Barcelona and Sevilla that saw Real slip to fourth before kick-off hadn’t played an extra motivating factor in their sudden return to form.
“You can have a look and see what is happening, but that is independent of what we have to do,” he added.
“We have the obligation to give everything in every game we play. We are all satisfied, but we must continue like this.”
Raphael Varane got Madrid off to the perfect start when he headed home Toni Kroos’s free-kick after just four minutes.
“The intensity we started with made everything a lot easier,” said Varane.
“We have spoken a lot in the past few days about improving that aspect of our play and everyone responded well today.”
Karim Benzema slotted home the second from another Kroos assist before Marcelo added a third.
It was Real’s fourth, though, that stole the show as a sweeping team move involving five players stormed from a Betis corner all the way down the other end of the field in seconds before Isco tapped into an empty net.
“I will watch it again and enjoy it,” said a smiling Zidane.
Alvaro Cejudo pulled a goal back for Betis at the start of the second-half, but a stunning strike from Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo rounded off the scoring.
“I needed a game like that. I needed a little bit of confidence and that will come with more minutes,” said Isco, who was making a rare start in the absence of the injured Luka Modric and James Rodriguez.
“I still don’t have full match fitness, but I hope to keep improving bit-by-bit.”