Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema help Real Madrid hit Mallorca for six

Los Blancos look in good shape in La Liga, while rivals Barca continue to struggle on the pitch and are in turmoil off it

While Atletico Madrid and Barcelona struggle for form in the early stages of this La Liga season, the same cannot be said of Real Madrid.

Los Blancos have picked up 16 from a possible 18 points so far and Carlo Ancelotti's side smashed Mallorca 6-1 on Wednesday, with Marco Asensio grabbing a hat-trick and the red hot Karim Benzema scoring twice.

The win leaves Real top of the table, two points ahead of reigning champions Atletico - who needed an injury-time goal from Luis Suarez to beat Getafe on Tuesday - while arch rivals Barca languish down in eighth with just eight points.

And it is the form of Benzema that is propelling Real's flying start as the France attacker took his league tally to eight goals and seven assists for the campaign.

“The fact he's scored so many sometimes makes you forget the work he does for the team and assists he provides. He's so complete,” Ancelotti said.

The Italian decided to start Asensio as part of a midfield three, rather than out wide, and the move paid dividends.

“He did really well,” Ancelotti said. “It’s true that putting him in that position is one that can hurt the other team a lot because he has a lot of quality receiving the ball between the lines.

“Plus, he can shoot really well and he combines well with the forwards. I’d love if we could find another case of this next week too, with another three goals.”

Madrid have netted 21 league goals - 10 more than any other side - so far, and the Italian lavished praise on his fringe players who have stepped up when needed due to injuries. Star turns Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro were all missing from Wednesday's starting line-up.

“We've got a good mix between youth and experience in the squad. I'm happy that the players who have not featured much are ready to play. It's a really good sign for the squad,” Ancelotti, whose team now play host mid-table Villarreal on Saturday, added.

Diego Simeone's side visit bottom of the table Alaves with doubts over midfield trio Koke, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Thomas Lemar's fitness.

Barcelona, who visit Cadiz on Thursday, have had a nightmare start to the season with manager Ronald Koeman and president Joan Laporta embroiled in public a war of words.

Koeman read out a statement and refused to take questions in Wednesday's pre-match press conference.

“The club is with me in a situation of rebuilding. The economic situation is linked to the situation on the pitch,” said the Dutchman, as he read from his statement.

“We as a staff have to rebuild the team without making big investments and that takes time. The young talents can be world stars in a couple of years. The youngsters will have opportunities, like Xavi [Hernandez] and [Andres] Iniesta had, but patience is required.

“Besides, to finish high in the league table would be a success. In the Champions League, no miracles can be expected. The defeat against Bayern [Munich] must be seen in that light.

“The team must be supported, in words and actions. I know that the press recognises this process, it is not the first time in history that this has happened.

“We count on your support in these decisive times. We are very, very happy with the support of the fans, as was the case against Granada. Come on, Barcelona!”

Updated: September 23rd 2021, 11:08 AM
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