Real Madrid let slip two more vital points at home against Eibar on Sunday evening. The visitors from Basque played some entertaining football, earning them a point which must have felt more like victory, coming as it did at the Bernabeu.
Heading into the international break, Real Madrid showed no signs of picking up any momentum, drawing their fourth consecutive game in all competitions for the first time in over ten years.
Earlier in the day, Real’s rivals from across town – Atletico Madrid – went top of the table after beating Valencia. Los Blancos’ draw puts them level on points with Atletico, but the latter’s superior goal difference ensures they rank first going into the two-week hiatus.
The news of Celta Vigo’s heroics at home, taking all three points against FC Barcelona must come as huge relief to Real; a win against Celta would have meant Barca topping the table and Real slipping to third place.
IWe take a look at five of the key talking points following Los Blancos’ game.
#5 Eibar score their first ever league goal against Real Madrid
Since their promotion to Primera Division in 2014, Eibar have faced Los Bloncos four times prior to this latest outing – twice each over the last two seasons – and each time been subjected to defeat. As if that wasn’t enough, Eibar hadn’t managed to breach the Madrid defence ever, that is, until Sunday evening.
The game started encouragingly for Madrid as Gareth Bale exploited his pace to repeatedly get behind the Eibar lines; however, nothing came of those initial moments.
Six minutes into the match, the Bernabeu was silenced as Florian Lejeune delivered a precise cross for Fran Rico, whose run was brilliantly timed, to head into goal. The away end erupted to celebrate the visitors’ first ever goal in the league against their mighty opponents as Eibar took the lead.
#4 Zidane under pressure following fourth successive draw in all competitions
When Gareth Bale equalised just over ten minutes after Eibar had taken the lead, Madrid fans would have hoped for a turnaround, especially with the quality of attacking personnel at Zidane’s disposal. Needless to say, they were disappointed at the full-time whistle.
The draw against Eibar was Los Blancos’ fourth in a row across competitions – a record they have managed to avoid for more than a decade. Incidentally, Zidane was a part of the squad that drew back in March 2006, as a player.
The fact that this unconvincing performance comes on the heels of similarly dissatisfactory results against Villarreal and Las Palmas in the league and earlier this week against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League group stage, will not have gone unnoticed by the Madrid head honchos.
The pressure on a Real Madrid manager is immense at all points of time – he is expected to deliver results and trophies consistently
Any theory doubting Zidane’s tenability as head coach can be rubbished at this stage though. After all, this is just his first full season as coach; the fact that he will need more time is undisputable.
However, it is not only the results but the quality of performances that have been difficult to digest in the recent past and this latest outing will have done nothing to ease the weight off the Frenchman’s shoulders.
#3 Madrid attack continues to lack confidence and fluidity, defensively flaccid
In the initial minutes, it was a welcome sight to witness Bale threading in and out of the Eibar defensive setup, linking up with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, who was back in the starting line-up in place of Alvaro Morata.
Ronaldo and Danilo exchanged passes superbly on the left and it was the former’s cross to Bale which ended up in the back of the net in the 17th minute. It appeared as if the ‘BBC’ was back but as they say, “Appearances are deceptive”; in this case it certainly was.
The equaliser should ideally have provided an impetus to proceedings but it didn’t.
Once again, Real Madrid failed to seize the initiative and strengthen their position. While they kept possession for the most part, Eibar continued to attack on the counter and Los Blancos’ midfield did nothing to provide any shield for the defence as the backline’s vulnerability was exposed time and again.
Madrid registered just 3 of their 15 shots on target while Eibar managed 4 on target out of the 7 attempted.
Over the course of 90 minutes, the Madrid attack lacked conviction, their midfield was overrun and the defence was dysfunctional, all contributing to the poor result.
#2 Injury woes mount for Zidane – Modric ruled out for a month
Luka Modric added to Zidane’s worries as the Croatian has been ruled out for at least a month following damage to his left knee cartilage. It has been confirmed that he has successfully undergone a surgery.
Modric will be missed even more acutely, as Casemiro’s absence in midfield continues to haunt Real Madrid. The Brazilian has been crucial to intercepting and breaking down opposition attacks in the middle of the park and his injury has derailed Los Blancos’ momentum significantly.
Neither Toni Kroos nor Isco have stepped up to the plate to offer any kind of solace to Zizou’s midfield worries. The lack of a defensive-minded midfielder is certainly among the top of Zidane’s list of problems.
While the manager has numerous creative options in attack, there is little option for tweaks in midfield and defence. Meanwhile, Marcelo is still out and is yet to return to team training while Sergio Ramos was rested for the evening against Eibar.
#1 Eibar prove worthy opponents, snatch a crucial point
At the close of proceedings, Eibar players were ecstatic as they cheered the away support and why not! After all, they came to the Bernabeu – the home of the erstwhile European champions - and managed to snatch a point while keeping the crowd engaged and playing some good football.
Many experts and pundits alike assumed that Eibar would sit deep and park the bus against Real but that was far from reality. The visitors took the game to Los Blancos and took home a thoroughly deserved point.
Former Madridista Pedro Leon had an excellent outing and came close to giving Eibar the lead once again, but Keylor Navas saved superbly on his return to the first team. Leon had a couple of decent chances and so did Sergi Enrich, but none translated to a goal.
Eibar persisted until the end and the minnows can take heart from this performance and push on.