Real Madrid secured a joyous win over Valencia on Saturday to breathe new life into their campaign ahead of a crunch match-up against Paris Saint-Germain, however there remains a doubt that they will discover the consistency that has been lacking all season long.
Zinedine Zidane watched on as his team managed two objectives with their 4-1 victory on the east coast; securing their spot in the Champions League qualification places and boosting morale following the shameful Copa del Rey exit to Leganes.
However the win at Estadio Mestalla gave plenty of reason for doubt in and of itself. Los Blancos benefitted from two early penalties and then Keylor Navas was required to see them through a very tricky period in the second-half, after which they scored twice more with great individual goals.
It is nonetheless true that Real showed themselves in a far better light than in previous weeks and recovered a clinical punchiness that will be integral against PSG, whom they face on February 14 and March 3.
“The good thing about football is that when something bad happens, there is a game a few days later,” reasoned Zidane post-match, before acknowledging the key role of his goalkeeper. “Keylor helped us a lot.
“A number of players who, for whatever reason, had struggled for form this season re-emerged against Valencia; Toni Kroos, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Navas and Cristiano Ronaldo among them. In return, they still suffered in defence and found the start of the second-half very tricky.
Now the question is whether this result will see Madrid into their clash against PSG on good enough form to worry the French leaders. They need consistency ahead of this all-or-nothing clash.
For example, a 5-0 win over Sevilla on December 9 led to Los Merengues winning the Club World Cup title just weeks later, and yet they returned to Spain for a 3-0 defeat in El Clasico.
Recent failings against Celta Vigo, Villarreal and Leganes mean that plenty of questions remain over this team and its ability to find consistency.
It goes to show the situation that they are in when such a big victory over a league rival fails to dispel their doubts ahead of a defining Champions League occasion.