The Week in Real Madrid: Mixed bag for Zizou leaves Blancos "playing for season"
The week in five words
That didn’t go to plan.
What went well
It’s still a tough ask for Madrid to make up five points (one extra due to Barça’s superior head-to-head record) over the remaining six games
Eibar were given a 17-1 chance of beating Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu, in a match that was over in a matter of minutes (as so many distinctly pointless Primera games are in Real Madrid’s home). Given those odds, Real Madrid’s 4-0 beating of the Basque visitors was a minimum requirement rather anything deserving of a big pat on the back.
What might leave some Real Madrid supporters with the corners of their mouths in a faintly upturned fashion was Barcelona dropping three points for the second week in a row, taking the total up to eight from the last nine available. That certainly makes the league table look a little better, and relieves a tiny bit of the pressure riding on Tuesday’s Wolfsburg rematch.
But it’s still a tough ask for Madrid to make up five points (one extra due to Barça’s superior head-to-head record) over the remaining six games of the season. But that’s what might be required should the prayed-for turnaround against Wolfsburg not transpire.
Aside from Gareth Bale losing €2 in the Valdebebas vending machine, when the claw jammed jarringly in front of the the thirsty Welshman, the big disappointment of the week was Madrid’s haplessly hopeless display against Wolfsburg in the Champions League.
To sum up the stakes on Tuesday, Zinedine Zidane confirmed that Madrid were “playing for the season” in the Santiago Bernabéu – although that was before Barcelona stumbled in San Sebastian.
The defeat let a whole host of trouble out of the bag – including complaints that the post-Clásico Ronaldo-in-his-pants photograph now looked ridiculous, giving off the image of a squad thinking that a sorry season so far had been saved and that the job was already done in Wolfsburg.
In just a matter of three days, the match also reversed the given that Zizou would be the Madrid manager at the start of the next year, with the Clásico victory being seen as beacon of hope for the institution’s future. “I know know how things are at this club,” came Zidane’s response, on the pressure he faces in Madrid’s biggest Champions League comeback challenge, since… er, last year’s.
Quote of the week
Alvaro Arbeloa is the last troll standing in the Real Madrid camp, and the genuine superhero-style nemesis of Gerard Piqué.
So of course, the full-back – who had a rare start against Eibar – couldn’t help tweeting: “How hard it is to win against eleven!” in reference to Barcelona’s numerical advantage against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League.
The need-to-know facts
- Real Madrid have now scored 64 goals at home in La Liga, just 14 off the record from the 1989/90 campaign.
- James Rodríguez has a remarkable 33% accuracy with his free-kicks for Real Madrid, with Saturday’s effort against Eibar being his third goal from nine attempts.
Video of the week
Poor Marcelo was the owner of the most-watched moment in the Real Madrid universe with his best Sergio Busquets impression.
Winner of the week
With Karim Benzema injured again and the fragile Bale rested to avoid yet another leg-related breakdown, Cristiano Ronaldo was forced to play alongside lesser members of the squad like Jesé and Lucas Vásquez, about whom he’d been a touch critical in February.
But a plucky CR7 was up for grinning and bearing the ordeal against Eibar, and even gave assists to his two younger charges as well as scoring one of his own. In doing so, the Portuguese set yet another record by becoming the first player to hit 30 goals in La Liga for six seasons running.
Loser of the week
Being booed in the Santiago Bernabéu is almost a rite of passage to be cherished. It means the fans have taken notice. Nothing worse than being ignored at Real Madrid, right?
Danilo is the latest to suffer those sleights from the stands, after his general self-destruction against the sprightly Julian Draxler in the Wolfsburg defeat. “Everyone’s been booed here, but being booed is never nice,” admitted former midfielder and now-boss Zizou, who himself endured a fair amount of supporter negativity in his time as a player at Madrid.