Four days before his showdown with Neymar in the Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Real Madrid flexed their muscles, thumping Real Sociedad 5-2.
Two of his goals were gifts with the visitor’s defence leaving him unmarked in the area for the first, and Real Sociedad goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli spilling a Gareth Bale shot straight into his path for his third.
But it was still a display full of vigour and verve – the performance of a man who believes he is far from finished, and can’t wait to show it in his favourite competition on Wednesday.
Real Madrid’s noisiest supporters behind the South Goal were on ‘strike’ at the start of the game in protest at the way they feel the players have failed to acknowledge their support this season.
They were stood in silence as Lucas Vazquez, one player who always respects the supporters, got the first goal of the night.
Ronaldo’s cross from the left was slightly behind him but the winger twisted mid-air and steered his header past Geronimo Rulli.
Vazquez will not play on Wednesday when Bale comes back in but this was a reminder of how he invariably delivers when called upon.
A goal inside the first minute was the worst thing that could happen to Real Sociedad. They had come into the game having lost four of their last five matches. They sold their centre-back in the January window and are dropping like a stone down the table.
And they tend to always lose to Madrid – Real Madrid had scored at least four against them in the last four seasons in this fixture.
Here it was four by half time, and Ronaldo was at the heart of it. He has scored in all seven of his previous games against Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu and he clocked-in on minute 27 from Marcelo’s cross.
He was in so much space in the area when he scored he could have retied his boots before finishing.
There could have been more goals. Real Madrid, and Ronaldo in particular, were running riot. He raced down the right and pulled the ball back for Karim Benzema whose shot was pushed out for a corner.
When Ramos headed the ball across the face of the goal Ronaldo hooked his volley on to the post. He got the fourth of the game with a header from a corner eight minutes before half time.
Between the two Ronaldo goals Toni Kroos got his fourth goal of the season and the third of the night. It was a typical Kroos goal curled in from the edge of the area with the minimum back lift, the minimum fuss. Madrid had the game won in 45 minutes.
In the second period Zidane made changes. Mateo Kovacic and Isco came on just after the hour mark with Luka Modric taking an early cut and Vazquez also going off. With 20 minutes left Bale replaced Marco Asensio.
Real Sociedad were better. They could hardly be any worse. Juanmi hit the post and Jon Bautista managed steer his shot inside Keylor Navas’ near post having found space between Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane.
Bale broke down the right in Madrid’s next move and shot low at Rulli who got down to the ball but pushed it out to Ronaldo who greedily accepted the opportunity to complete his hat-trick.
Asier Illarramendi made it 5-2 with a consolation for Real Sociedad and remind the watching PSG analysts of just how easy it is to score against this Madrid defence.
What the spies will also have noted is that Madrid still have plenty of firepower at the other end of the pitch. Ronaldo headed Madrid’s last chance just wide denying himself a fourth on the night.
Now to the European Cup and PSG. The challenger will be on Spanish soil in three days. The champion still looks in pretty good shape.