It was all about on Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday night after Real pounced on city rivals, Atletico Madrid on three different occasions in the space of 90 minutes at Santiago Bernabeu.
The Portuguese set Real Madrid on their way to victory against Atletico in the Champions League semi-finals with a header after 10 minutes – and it has become a hallmark of Los Blancos in recent times.
Ronaldo’s hat-trick means Madrid are on the verge of another appearance in the final after a 3-0 win over Diego Simeone’s side and Zinedine Zidane’s men have placed special emphasis on aerial ability to advance in the Champions League and La Liga this term.
In the pre-match press conference on Monday, Dani Carvajal was asked which small details could give his team the edge in another difficult derby.
And in his reply, the defender mentioned dead-ball situations as a weapon for Los Blancos.
He was right, too, because 19 of Madrid’s goals in La Liga this term (21% in total) have come from set pieces – 10 from corners and nine from free-kicks.
However, Madrid have scored 26 times from headers in the Primera Division this term – 28% of their 92 goals in the league in 2016-17.
And that is more than any other team from Europe’s top five leagues.
The next best is Monaco, with 18 goals from headers in Ligue 1 this season and – perhaps not coincidentally – also in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
And Ronaldo’s header against Valencia on Saturday saw Madrid surpass the mark set by Simeone’s Atletico in 2014-15, when the Rojiblancos finished the season with 25 goals from headers.
Ronaldo, Ramos and Alvaro Morata have all scored six apiece from the air in La Liga this season, with three from Gareth Bale and two from Pepe among the 26 headed goals.
Los Blancos are blessed with a number of players who are tall and strong in the air, but also footballers with the technique to be able to pick them out in the area, including Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo and Carvajal (who has more assists than any defender in Europe this season).