The capital of Spain was electric on Saturday, as Madrid rivals Real Madrid and Atletico squared off at the Vicente Calderon. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick en route to a 3-0 win against Atletico, which could go a long way to deciding the title chase in La Liga. Here are six takeaways from Real Madrid's clinical performance against Atletico.
Zinedine Zidane nailed his tactics
Real Madrid came into the derby banged up, but Zidane made all the right adjustments to put Los Blancos in a position to succeed. The usual 4-3-3 that Real Madrid lines up in was ditched for a 4-2-3-1, with Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic tasked with handling the double pivot. Cristiano Ronaldo spearheaded Zidane's attack, with Isco given a free role behind him. Flanked by Lucas Vasquez and Gareth Bale, Isco thrived in the adjusted system. Zizou gets an A+ for his managerial acumen.
Stefan Savic will want to bury his head in the sand
Being a defender is tough, especially when you're facing a team with the quality of Real Madrid. Derby or not, Savic had a brutal outing on Saturday, though. The 25-year-old turned his body on Cristiano Ronaldo's free kick, opening a crease for the Real Madrid ace to thread the ball through. The free kick appeared to deflect off Savic and rolled past Jan Oblak for the opening goal. Savic also dove in on Ronaldo in the box and left his leg far too high, bringing down the Portuguese and conceded a back-breaking penalty.
Real Madrid's depth is impressive
Los Blancos didn't have their full squad available for the pivotal derby match, but it didn't matter. Nacho and Raphael Varane deputized for the absent centerback pairing of Pepe and Sergio Ramos and knocked it out of the park. Toni Kroos and Casemiro weren't available, and Real Madrid still bossed the midfield. Usual starting striker Karim Benzema only came on as a late substitute, but the attack was fine without him. Once those players are healthy, Zidane will have a puzzling problem of fitting them all in. That's a fine problem to have, though.
Yannick Carrasco offered some hope
It wasn't all doom and gloom for Atletico. After a languid first half they came out with a strong start to the second half. In fact, they looked poised for an equalizer up until Ronaldo's penalty conversion. Even so, young Yannick Carrasco was a bright spot throughout the match for Atletico. The 23-year-old Belgian threaded some mouthwatering passes and had a few near-miss shots on goal. Sure, he came up empty, but at least he gave the Atletico faithful a reason to stand up out of their seats.
Back to the drawing board for Diego Simeone
It's still early going, but Atletico's title hopes are already growing dim. After the loss to Real, Atletico find themselves nine points back of the leaders. It's sure to be a fight until the end, but Simeone needs to energize his squad and ensure they're a part of that fight. Real Madrid thoroughly outplayed Atletico on Saturday, so there's plenty for Simeone to correct. He has the cache to do so, but it's certainly not going to be an easy task.
Cristiano Ronaldo is embracing his role as a villain
Ronaldo coming up huge for Real Madrid is nothing new. He scored all three goals for Los Blancos, and all three were the kind that will drive his haters absolutely nuts. The first was a deflected free kick, the second a penalty and the third a tap in. Not a worldy among them, but Ronaldo couldn't care less. He celebrated each one as though he'd just lasered them in from beyond midfield, much to the chagrin of Atletico fans at the Vincente Calderon. Go ahead and boo him, he's just going to keep on scoring.