Pitchside Europe

Real Madrid’s record-breaking ‘BBC’ set new standards in Europe

Real Madrid’s stunning 6-1 win away at Schalke on Wednesday night was the performance of the round in the Champions League – and the emphatic nature of the victory suggested the Spanish club may be better equipped than ever to finally be named European champions for a 10th time.

Madrid recorded their ninth European Cup win in 2002 and it has been a long wait to return to the very top of European football.

However, they are certain of a place in the quarter-finals and, on their current prolific form, are arguably the best team in the competition, along with Bayern Munich.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side set a new Champions League record when scoring in their 32nd game in succession in the competition and have a forward line which is the envy of every other club in world football: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.

Prior to Wednesday’s game, Marca christened Benzema, Bale and Cristiano ‘The BBC’, and they certainly lived up to their showbiz billing when each of the forwards scored twice to put Schalke to the sword.

It was the first time since Liverpool’s 8-0 win over Besiktas in 2007 that three players from the same team had scored two or more goals in one game. On that occasion a rather less stellar cast, but another BBC, of Yossi Benayoun (3), Ryan Babel (2) and Peter Crouch (2) were on the scoresheet.

Predictably, Marca revelled in Madrid's feat again on Thursday morning.

But the stunning win over Schalke also shed light on a deeper trend, which suggests Madrid have a better chance than ever of reclaiming the Champions League trophy this season.

As the tables below from Opta demonstrate, Ancelotti possesses the most potent attacking unit that Madrid have assembled since the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

In the Champions League so far this season, Madrid's top three scorers have been netting goals at an average of 1.1 per game per player - with that figure generously held up by Ronaldo, who has 11 in his six games.

That figure is higher than in any previous season with Ronaldo in the team, when the club's top three scorers in the competition are all taken into account.

Even if you recognise the fact that players will be more prolific in the group stages, and productivity could tail off somewhat as more accomplished opposition is placed in a team's path, Madrid's tally this season is still noticeably better than in previous years.

Indeed, their top three goalscorers have already met or surpassed the mark of three of the previous four seasons, which account for a whole Champions League campaign. In 2013/14 there could still be as many as six games remaining if they make the final.

If Madrid's key men can continue to score at such an impressive rate, who would back against them to reign supreme in Europe once again?