Villareal 1-0 Real Madrid: Five Talking Points
Villareal continue to be a stumbling block for Real Madrid.Real Madrid slumped to a new low as they went down 1-0 to Villareal at El Madrigal, missing a chance to close the gap at the top of the table. Summer recruit Roberto Soldado came back to haunt his former side as his early strike proved to be enough for the Yellow Submarine to claim all three points from the crucial tie, leaving Los Blancos in the lurch once again.After an emphatic victory on the final matchday of the Champions League that extended their winning run to five games since the Clasico humbling, Rafa Benitez’s charges failed to build on it which showed they still have a long way to go.The defeat left the whites five points off joint leaders Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, and plenty of issues to chew on until the following fixture next weekend.Here are some of the underlining talking points emerging from the game.
#1 Real Madrid blow it all up
With Barcelona letting slip a 2 goal lead to draw with Deportivo a day earlier, Real Madrid had a really bright chance to cut the arrears at the top to just 2 points and make their La Liga title race look gettable but blew away the glorious opportunity to remain some distance off the top two.
With Copa Del Rey already out of their reach after getting suspended from the competition for fielding an ineligible player in Denis Cheryshev, Los Merengues were left with only two fronts to play on, thereby increasing the pressure of delivering trophies.
Now instead of responding back sprightly in such a situation, the Madrid outfit still appear struggling to gain a foothold in the season. Something that should set the alarm bells ringing, at least by now.
All the five victories that the Merengues registered prior to this match were nickel-and-dime stuff, where they were very much expected to saunter their way to a win. But against a slightly better opponent like Villareal, their credentials would be put through the paces and the result isn’t positive.
With three defeats and three draws already, Real Madrid are in a spot of bother in the league and have to buck up before it’s too little, too late.
#2 Villareal make a blistering start
The hosts made a bright start to the game that left the hapless visitors on the tenterhooks. Within the first 30 seconds, Villareal won their first corner. Within the first three minutes, they had their first effort on target and within the first 10 minutes, found the breakthrough. It was an absolutely stunning start to the game by the Yellow Submarine, who set the tone for the rest of the first half.
With Real Madrid’s defense in sixes and sevens time and again, Villareal could have easily extended their lead, especially through Cedric Bakambu, who ran rings around the visitor’s rearguard. The whites were barely allowed a sniff at goal at the other end and spent most of the first 45 minutes in keeping the home side from going further ahead.
The Valencian outfit took the game to their opponents, who were left quaking in the boots every time Villareal made their way down the area, and were just lucky not to fall far behind by the time the half-time was signalled.
#3 Roberto Soldado - How much a year can change
After a failed British inquisition, Spains estranged striker Roberto Soldado repatriated to his homeland when he joined Villareal in the summer. His career was down in the dumps since his move to Tottenham Hotspur where he failed to resurrect his reputation as one of the best strikersand ultimately moved back to the Iberian Peninsula. Now, finally, the good days are back for him.
Soldado has slowly began to feature on the scoresheetsand is on a decent run since his move to El Madrigal. His biggest contribution for Villareal, however, came last night when he struck as early as the 8th minute to put his side in the lead that the hosts would never cede.
Villareal flew out of the gates right from the first whistle of the game, and deservedly went ahead when Bruno dispossessed Luka Modric to lay a pass for Cedric Bakambu, who slipped inan unmarked Roberto Soldado to nudge home through the legs of Keylor Navas from close range.
The goal was really a pep in the Spaniards step as that was enough to hand his side the maximum points, and also enough to give him the encouragement to perform in the same vein. Onwards and upwards for Soldado.
#4 Los Blancos run out of ammunition
It seems as if Real Madrid utilized all the attacking power in their arsenal for the 8-0 demolition of Malmo in the Champions League last Wednesday that saw Karim Benzema bag three and Ronaldo going one better. Because not even a scintilla of that attacking verve would be emulated here. Not even from the aforementioned Blancos attacking duo.
Both Benzema and Ronaldo spurned a handful of chances that otherwise would have been enough to turn the tables on Villareal. Though the hosts were in control of the game for much of the first half, the visitors held the dominion in the second, pushing forward relentlessly.
The heat was really on the men in white as they threw caution to the wind and even the likes of Marcelo and Sergio Ramos were heavily involved in the attack, delivering umpteen crosses for the front men. Gareth Bale did his part too, but somehow, none were able to breach a tight Villareal backline. They didn’t make the opposition goalkeeper work, which is evidenced by the fact that they managed 20 shots, but only 1 hit the target.
The defeat only accentuates Real Madrid's shortcomings against defensively deep opponents, and must come up with a solution so that they can take the bull by it’s horns.
#5 Real Madrid have no room for errors anymore
With 15 games played and 15 points already dropped, Real Madrid have indeed had it tough in the league so far. A run of 10 games unbeaten was brought to a shuddering end when Sevilla handed them their first loss before the cut was deepened when Barcelona came to town a week later.
After two fair to middling victories on the road, moreover to some facile oppositions, the Merengues stumbled again when dealt with a tough challenge. These are certainly not the traits of a champion side and it clearly shows how much Real Madrid are off the pace in their quest for trophies this season.
While it was all green and serene in the Champions League till now, the going is set to get tougher when the round of 16 fixtures come around. And they cannot afford to slip up like this there as it would very much sound the death knell for the illustrious Madrid outfit, who have already spent the year of 2015 without hoisting any major trophy.
Come hell or high water, Real Madrid have no room for errors anymore.