There was very little difference between the performances of La Liga’s two biggest clubs on Saturday. While an uninspiring Barcelona fell to a 1-0 loss against Atletico Madrid, their bitter rivals Real Madrid also laboured to a 1-1 draw against Villarreal.
The only similarity from both games was the criticism that came after. In Barcelona’s case, the players were slammed for hiding and sending a teenage Riqui Puig for the post-game interview.
In Real Madrid’s case, though, it was manager Zinedine Zidane who was dishing out the criticism to the media. "Don't you guys worry. Carry on with what you are doing and I will keep working,” the Frenchman fired.
But despite not being receptive to any form of criticism, Saturday’s performance was one of Madrid’s worst in the season. As the game was ongoing, there was a stat on Eden Hazard’s output that summed up Zidane’s side.
Real Madrid: An attack lacking potency
The Belgian was handed a start against the Yellow Submarine but was hauled off after 65 minutes following a miserable outing. According to stats from Squawka, at the time of Hazard’s withdrawal, he had attempted zero shots and created zero chances.
Hazard’s struggles, by extension, typify the lack of attacking potency at Real Madrid at the moment. Against Villarreal, the Blancos started the game with an attacking trident of Lucas Vazquez, Mariano Diaz and Hazard.
Except for Hazard, whose class is already known but is currently struggling to find his feet, the other two attackers are not up to Real Madrid standards. Diaz and Vazquez are not players who can even guarantee 10 goals per season.
In the absence of Karim Benzema, Madrid played like a side with no arrowhead. They ended the game with just one shot on target, which coincidentally was the goal scored by Diaz.
Once Villarreal levelled through Gerard Moreno, the home side took over and created twice the number of chances Madrid managed throughout the 90 minutes. Villarreal had more shots (5), more corner-kicks (4) and more crosses (25).
Real Madrid already ruing summer departures
But for their own wastefulness, Villarreal could have won this game. For Real Madrid, though, this was yet another exposure of their toothless attack.
As it stands, Benzema is the only world-class forward in the team. The likes of Vinicius Jr, Diaz, Vazquez and Marco Asensio are good, but they are currently way off the level required to be a starter at Real Madrid.
"[The draw] is disappointing. We deserved a lot more today for the game we played. I was annoyed because of the effort the boys put in,” Zidane lamented, as quoted by Goal.
"Mariano's thing (the forward was taken off after scoring Madrid's solitary goal), he has been a long time out, he was exhausted. We dropped two points today, clearly."
The performance against Villarreal is evidence that Real Madrid needs to go all out in January to sign another forward.
The club is ruing the decision to let James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale leave without signing any replacements. And their attacking challenges will only get worse if things remain the same.Published 22 Nov 2020, 16:44 IST