Real Madrid CF had been at the brink of a state of emergency earlier this year, after bowing out of both the Supercopa de Espana and Copa del Rey in the span of a week. They were also slipping in La Liga before finally finding their form to string three successive wins.

The most recent victory came against Valencia on Sunday, With Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos leading the pack to a 2-0 win at home at Valdebebas. It was a fairly comfortable game for the defending champions, a far cry from the shaky form they were showing in recent defeats against much weaker teams.

They have managed to stay in the title race, despite being a good way behind Atletico Madrid. A less than stellar season from FC Barcelona has also allowed Real to hold on to the second spot.

The club has been plagued with injuries in the past months, most striking of which is a knee problem for captain Sergio Ramos. He underwent surgery earlier this month and is expected to be out for several weeks. Real Madrid had suffered in the absence of their captain in the past, but this time, they have managed to find a way to survive without him.

Over a third of the Real Madrid squad is currently sidelined, forcing Zinedine Zidane to think outside the box. He has allowed players like Sergio Arribas and Marvin Park to suit up for the team, something that his critics have been asking for since his return. Zidane had been facing criticism for sticking to the same set of players he had been using since his first stint, effectively leaving potential new stars without an opportunity to shine.

Dani Carvajal attempted to make a comeback against Valencia but had to leave the pitch within the opening 25 minutes after visibly re-igniting his injury.

Thibaut Courtois, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric have been consistent, with everyone holding down the fort in the absence of Ramos. They have a crucial UEFA Champions League tie against Atalanta coming up, which would prove to be crucial to keep their hopes alive for some silverware this season.

Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane is under pressure AFP / JORGE GUERRERO