Eight factors that explain Real Madrid's run of four draws
There's now talk of a "crisis" at Real Madrid following the side's fourth consectuive draw against Eibar on Sunday. We take a look at exactly what's gone wrong for Zinedine Zidane and his team.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane affirmed after his side’s fourth successive draw against Eibar on Sunday that things can’t continue like they are and that the team needs to improve its “intensity”. With results and performances as they are, there’s now talk of a crisis at the Bernabéu, and to make matters worse, Los Blancos are also suffering with injuries to a number of key players. Add to that the poor form of Benzema and a Keylor Navas still finding his feet (and hands) in goal after a long spell out, and it’s easy to see why the new LaLiga season isn’t quite going to plan. Here we take deeper look at some of the underlying reasons behind Real Madrid’s bad patch.
Zidane said in his press conference following the Eibar game that his side needed to add “more intensity”. In their four consecutive draws, Real Madrid have often gone missing for large parts of the match. Against Villarreal and Eibar, Madrid were caught asleep during the first half only to wake up and try to fix it in the second. In both cases, they were left playing against the clock and an adverse scoreline.
A series of defensive errors and lapses in concentration have seen the team concede preventable goals. Versus Villarreal, the lack of coordination in the substitution of injured Marcelo by Dani Carvajal resulted in Madrid playing with ten men for more than a minute, in which time Ramos conceded a penalty. It was also another Ramos slip up that led to Dortmund’s initial equaliser in the Champions League. Against Eibar, neither Danilo, Pepe, nor Varane played well. The goals conceded at the start or the end of the last four games have also been damning for Zidane’s men.
Over the four draws, Real Madrid have conceded six goals – the majority of which have come in the opening or final minutes of the match. What’s more, Dortmund let fire at the Madrid goal on 20 occasions, a record in the Zidane era. Over the whole season, Madrid have played 10 games and conceded in eight of those (12 goals in total). The only two occasions in which Los Blancos came away with a clean were away from home (0-2 v Espanyol, 0-3 v Real Sociedad).
The blow of losing Modric and Casemiro, the two lynchpins of the Madrid midfield, has left the centre of the pitch without stability or creativity. The weight of this absence has fallen on the shoulders of Kroos (who’s the only midfielder to have played in all four of the draws). Marcelo – a player without a natural replacement in the squad – has also been left on the sidelines with a knock, and now James is the latest to add to Real Madrid’s injury woes.
Cristiano has had an uncertain start the season after coming back from his knee injury sustained in Euro 2016. Benzema still doesn’t seem 100% and has been way off the boil in the last two matches. Bale, meanwhile, seems to be the only one form the BBC playing anywhere near like his top level. Varane is not currently showing his whole potential and Danilo is not currently looking like the player he once promised to be.
Lack of opportunity for Morata and Vazquez
A big section of Real Madrid fans are keen for Spaniards Lucas Vazquez and Alvaro Morata to be given more opportunities. Both are tireless hard workers and both have already provided crucial moments in the matches in which they’ve appeared. In the last four games though, Morata only started once, against Las Plamas. The striker played 14 minutes versus Villarreal, just three against Dortmund, and 45 against Eibar. Vazquez, on his part, didn’t make an appearance against either Dortmund or Eibar, and played less than 20 minutes versus Las Palmas and Villarreal.
Closing out games
During the four consecutive draws, Madrid have gone into the final minutes of two of those games leading, only to concede in the 84th minute v Las Palmas and 86th minute v Dortmund. Zidane’s side also had the lesser share of possession in these games, with 49% and 39% respectively.
The run of draws have also coincided with the return of Keylor Navas as goalkeeper, having replaced Kiko Casilla. Navas’ first game against Dortmund saw him at fault for Dortmund’s first goal, opting to punch back into danger when a catch may have been easier. The Costa Rican made a couple of good saves against Eibar, but demonstrated little aerial authority in the lead up to the visitor’s goal.