Real Madrid will end 2020 in second place in the La Liga after enduring a mixed year thus far. Los Blancos won the league title last season after putting up strong performances following the COVID-19-enforced break.
However, they’ve failed to return to those heights this season. Zinedine Zidane’s men have struggled for consistency this season, and their problems once again resurfaced when they faced Elche on Wednesday.
Real Madrid went into the gamei n high spirits after recording six wins from their last six games in all competitions, but they still could not find a way past a very average Elche side.
Luka Modric gave Zidane’s side the lead inside the first 20 minutes of the game with a well-timed rebound header. Real Madrid were in the driving seat and had several chances to kill the game in the first half.
However, failure to consolidate their lead came back to haunt Real Madrid, as Elche equalised just seven minutes after the restart from a Fidel Chaves penalty. Although the Blancos put up a late rally to conjure the winner, it was not to be.
Real Madrid's lack of killer instinct
Real Madrid’s six-game winning run mostly comprised of narrow victories, and they often rode their luck in some of these matches. On Wednesday, though, their luck ran out, and their inability to kill the game proved to be their undoing.
Marcelo hit the post while Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal were also culpable for missing one-on-one chances against Elche goalkeeper Edgar Badia. For a team seeking to challenge for the title, not taking their chances dents their title ambitions.
Atletico Madrid are already running away with the league title this season, and Real Madrid’s inconsistency is making it easier for Diego Simeone’s side. While Los Blancos drew with Elche, the Rojiblancos beat Getafe 1-0 to move two points clear of their city rivals at the top of the league table.
Simeone’s side also have two outstanding games; should they win those matches, they will move eight points clear of Real Madrid. There are still a lot of games to be played in the 2020-21 La Liga, but Los Blancos’ profligacy in front of goal has become very worrying.
Zinedine Zidane’s late changes in focus
Zinedine Zidane came under the spotlight following Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw with Elche after leaving it late to make his substitutions.
Los Blancos saw their performance drop after their opponents snatched the equaliser. Despite Elche getting stronger and stronger in the game, the Real Madrid boss waited till the 77th minute to make his first change when he brought on Eden Hazard for Lucas Vazquez.
A minute later, Zidane brought on Federico Valverde for Toni Kroos before waiting again till the 86th minute to take off Marco Asensio for Vinicius Junior. For a side chasing the winner, these substitutions came too late, and they failed to impact the game.
Moreover, Martin Odegaard was an unused substitute despite his obvious goal threat. Zidane attempted to defend his changes, but there is no doubt that he let his side down with his late substitutions.
“We created a number of chances in the first half to have got that second goal, which would have allowed us to be more relaxed, but when they got the equaliser, everything became that bit more difficult for us,” the Frenchman said, as quoted by Realmadrid.com.
Zinedine Zidane further said in this regard:
“They dropped deeper, and we struggled in the second half. That's just the way things go in football, and we've got to keep going. If you look at the first half, it's a case of two points dropped, but we have to keep on working hard.”
Real Madrid are a long way from defending their league title they won last season unless they manage to solve their inconsistency problem.Published 31 Dec 2020, 20:35 IST