Real Madrid 2-1 Viktoria Plzen match report: Champions League
Goals from Benzema and Marcelo helped settle the nerves somewhat at the Bernabéu but the performance from Lopetegui's side failed to convince ahead of the Clásico.
Real Madrid 2-1 Viktoria Plzen: match report
Was it enough to Save Julen Lopetegui's job or was the current Real Madrid manager simply standing in place tonight in the knowledge that his time on the bench at the Bernabeu is not long? It's unclear but Real Madrid were faced with an almost impossible task on Tuesday night in the Champions League and it's hard not to feel sorry for Lopetegui, who sulked from one minute to the next with sporadic yelling at his troops in the hope of turning away an increasingly powerful tide. By beating Plzen well, you're simply doing your job just like Roma did when they beat them 5-0 earlier in the tournament, but struggle as Real Madrid did on Tuesday night and the whistles can be heard all along the Paseo de la Castellana from Cibeles to Plaza Castilla.
And Plzen seemed aware of the predicament Real Madrid found themselves in. They tried to use that fear against their hosts with an often open and expansive style, that nearly paid dividends in the first half, at least.
Lopetegui opted for Lucas Vazquez at right-back instead of Alvaro Odriozola and Raphael Varane in place of Nacho, with the two more regular defenders dropped as part of the process of losing to Levante at the weekend and the fall-out that has ensued.
It was the first man mentioned who was nearly caught out in the first half when Petrzela raced onto a ball over the top and forced Navas into a save, which is something you've surely heard before.
Just a couple of seconds later and Vazquez was sending a perfect pass onto the head of Karim Benzema to nod home and calm tensions for the time being at the Bernabeu. Plzen, who arrived with an unwarranted swagger, had nothing to lose and they were loving life as the underdog against a team in freefall.
They had their best chance of the half at the end of the opening 45 minutes after suffering through some very nervous moments including a chance from Isco and an offside goal from Bale. Marcelo was caught out down the left and the ball was delivered for Hrolovsky to spoon over from point blank range.
Real Madrid had to be feeling a little dose of deja-vouz after creating and then failing to finish a number of gilt-edge chances. Those whistles emerged as Lopetegui's disappearing good will continued to be sapped from the stands of the Bernabeu.
The second half started and Real Madrid were far more dangerous than they were in the first. The confident Plzen side had stayed in the dressing room and their more docile and defensive lookalikes replaced them. Time and time again, however, Real Madrid failed to convert. Not until the 56th minutes did Marcelo clip a shot over the advancing Hruska to make it 2-0 that Real Madrid could breathe easy.
Until the 79th minute, that was, when Real Madrid collectively turned off at the back and allowed Hrosovsky an acre of space to operate in as he stroked one past Navas and to turn the Bernabeu crowd into the brooding mass they have been more often than not this season as their side's struggles continue to haunt them.
Real Madrid regressed one more time as Plzen continued on the front foot for the remainder of the game. It resembled the opening 15 for the remainder of the second half where Real Madrid looked likely but the visitors had a trick or two up their sleeve. Ultimately, they lacked the talent to get themselves back into the game but it says a lot about how far this Real Madrid side have fallen that they even had an iota of a chance as the minutes ticked down.
They barely got another shot at goal, however, as Real Madrid survived another scare on home turf. It's Barcelona next at the Camp Nou with Lopetegui's job looking increasingly difficult to salvage as those whistles echoed all around the Bernabeu long after the final whistle had blown.
Real Madrid - Viktoria Plzen online: live match commentary
90'+4' GAME OVER! Plzen go close but Real Madrid survive a scare. Whistles again at the Bernabeu for a struggling side.
90'+4' They work it short and it eventuall comes in and is headed clear.
90'+4' Ramos takes Krmencik out of it and Plzen given a free.
90'+2' Krmencik drives forward and Plzen go close to getting a second if he could just get a shot away. It's cleared and Ekpai wins the throw.
89' Looks like Marcelo can't continue.
87' Mariano set to come on. He will replace Benzema.
87' Marcelo caught late by Ekpai and he wins a free down by the sideline.
85' Ramos heads away.
84' Cross sent in over the top and Nacho gets across to put it out for a corner. He's down injured after taking a blow from Krmencik
82' Benzema kind of slices a shot about 15 yards wide.
80' Valverde with a nice tackle to save the day just outside the box.
78' He walked through the defence with Ramos and Marcelo struggling to get near him.
78' GOAL! GOAL for Plzen. This is just poor Hrosovsky is the goalscorer and he deserved that after his miss in the first half.
78' He heads it down and wide. Wonderful but wasted chance.
78' That is a perfect cross from Asensio onto the head of Vazquez.
76' Ramos gets a head to that one from Kroos. Heads it over though.
75' Asensio on for Bale.
74' Bale cuts inside and Bale leaves Hubnik for dead. He tries to pass it into the box and it's out for another corner.
72' Casemiro loops one over looking for Benzema but Hruska is off his line to gather.
72' It was actually Modric who was offside.
71' Another offside. Benzema the man this time. Modric plays it inside and the French striker is offside.
70' Bale drives forward again. Strong hand by the keeper keeps it out and Benzema follows it in and it's gathered by Hruska.
69' Strike comes in from Bale. Very close but wide as it slams into the hoarding behind the goal.
68' Plzen with a rare attack. Ball inside is too close to Navas and he gathers.
67' Modric with the ball over the top to Vazquez. That's another corner.
65' Corner is sent in and Bale heads over. He was up fairly high there and landed on the ground quite heavily.
64' Bale inside by Benzema. Bale gets it and sends it inside. Valverde can't reach it and it's put over the bar for a corner by Hubnik.
63' Benzema has a fairly tame penalty shout turned down. He cuts inside and slips as he makes contact with the Plzen defender.
61' Modric cuts inside and shots. Saved by Hruska and it's out again. Real Madrid piling the pressure on now.
59' Kroos penalised for a high foot as the ball rebounded from a Benzema shot.
55' 2-0. Valverde picks the ball up and he plays it to Bale, who flicks it perfectly to Marcelo. Lovely goal.
53' Valverde is replacing Isco.
53' All very tight at the back. Real Madrid trying to find space and can't. Plzen clear away.
53' Bale comes in off the right and he strikes over the bar. Wound up his left foot and struck well over in the end.
52' Corner for Real Madrid. Cleared by Plzen.
51' Michael Krmencik with a beautiful ball over the top to Havel and he misses! What a chance. Marcelo continues to get away with not defending and switching off.
50' Plzen attack again and Ramos steps in front, plays it out to Modric and he finds Benzema, who gives it away very placidly.
49' Corner. Casemiro puts it out behind. Ball in behind Marcelo and Plzen get it, cross and that was dangerous.
49' Benzema in from the left and clips one towards goal but it's into the path of Hruska.
49' Real Madrid back on the ball.
48' Limbersky with a slaloming run but runs out of room and falls over, wants a free and doesn't get it.
47' Marcelo slides in to intercept a pass from Hubnik out from the back. Plzen throw.
47' Plzen win a throw. Nacho grabs his side after being back into by Krmencik.
46' Back in action at the Bernabeu.
Teams in the tunnel now and ready to make their way back onto the turf.
45' Half-time at the Bernabeu as the whistles start. How didn't Plzen score there. Just incredible.
45' What a chance! Hrosovsky puts it over the bar. How did he find himself so free?
44' Marcelo with a lethal ball and Benzema can't reach it. Vazquez gets it and Real Madrid attack again but lose it. What a game.
42' Benzema tries to make amends and passes to Bale in traffic. He gets a toepoke on it and it's saved by Hruska.
42' Cross way up into the clouds above Madrid and comes down to Navas pillowy gloves.
41' Vazquez looks for a penalrt. ridiculous decision by Limbersky as he chests it down to Hruska and leaves him short before throwing himself in front of Vazquez, who was sneaking around the corner to get the ball.
39' Petrzela is crowded out but Kroos gives it away again. Ends in a shot for Plzen that is way, way over the bar.
37' Saved! And then Ramos comes in from the left and it's out for a corner.
37' Vazquez down the right again after another dreadful clearance by Hruska. Real Madrid might rue these missed chances. Corner and Isco goes very, very close.
36' Isco wide open. He clips it over Hruska. Plzen are absolutely dreadful at the back.
35' Ball clipped in and cleared. Foul and free for Real Madrid. This game is still hanging in the balance!
34' Casemiro hauls down Cermak. Lovely turn by the Plzen player.
33' Bale slots it home. He was offside though. Kroos with the pass and it was a beaut, if not a fraction of a second too late.
33' Isco with a late one now on Petrzela.
31' Benzema inside and he has Bale, who is waiting inside. He goes alone and it's saved.
30' Lovely ball through by Petrzela and Limbersky has a chance. He clips it over Navas and just wide.
30' A pass too many inside the area for them though as they lose it eventually. They are technically very good.
29' Casemiro with another foul on Krmencik this time. They lose it but win it back again. They can really play this side.
28' Ball inside to Isco but he can't control it as it dribbles wide.
27' That's a yellow for Limbersky. He kicks the legs off Vazquez as he cuts inside. Really nasty one from the left-back.
26' Modric cuts one inside to Isco, who tries to find Benzema, but it's cleared in the end. Real Madrid win it back but Ramos did so illegally.
25' Cermak cuts inside but Ramos comes across and clears. Real Madrid on the attack again.
24' Petrzela moves forward and Kroos comes in and cleans him out. Free for Plzen.
23' Benzema gets the ball from Modric and he clips it back towards goal. It goes just over the Croatian's head. Plzen scramble away.
22' Real Madrid in control of this now. Plzen started well but have retreated. Real Madrid at ease now, a little bit, after that goal. The first lead they have had since September 22nd. Incredible.
21' Bale into the path of Marcelo and he looked to be offside. He was indeed, I can confirm, after the benefit of a replay.
18' Vazquez with a throw now and he's in no real hurry.
17' Vazquez, playing as a winger, sends the ball inside and Kroos sends it out to Isco. Corner.
16' More pressure from Real Madrid now but it ends up as a goalkick for Plzen.
14' Real Madrid move forward again. They've taken a little more control of this now. It was very hectic for the opening few minutes.
13' Krmencik tries to flick it over Ramos and it looked like he handled the ball but the referee says play away.
12' BENZEMA! GOAL! Vazquez with a perfect cross and Benzema heads it home like a bullet from a gun.
11' Petrzela with a run in behind Vazquez and he strikes. Saved by the keeper and then he hits the side netting. So, so close to an opener.
10' Ramos with a foul on Havel.
9' Ball landed over the top again and Bale stretches for it. "You'll hurt yourself with a move like that," can be heard from the newsroom here. Hamstrings were at full stretch.
8' Lucas Vazquez with a cross now and it's blocked again. Corner.
7' Ball into the box again and it's chested down by Reznik and the keeper gathers.
6' Bale down the right again and squares but it's cleared. This game is wide open.
5' And Bale is fouled as he gets back to defend.
5' Ramos with another header. He's free too. Ball takes about 10 minutes to hit the post. The whole thing just stood still there for what seemed like an age. Cleared in the end by Plzen.
5' Bal on the right now. Vazquez gets it and crosses but it's blocked out for a corner.
4' Plzen attack and the ball is sent towards goal. Real Madrid get it away before Isco is tripped and fouled by Reznik.
3' Ball back to Navas and he takes a heavy tough before putting it out for a throw.
3' Ramos rises highest and heads it over the top! Danger averted for now for Plzen.
3' Another corner after some confusion at the back for Plzen.
3' Worked short and Marcelo and Isco link up well.
2' Ramos ends up on the ground and Real Madrid win a corner.
2' Gareth Bale is thrown to the ground and Real Madrid have a free that Kroos is ready to take. It's on the right and he sends it in.
1' We are underway at the Bernabeu.
The teams exchange pleasantaries with a handshake and a 'good luck' as Ramos and Plzen's captain, Hubnik, go up for the toin coss.
Teams in the tunnel.
We are getting ready to kick-off at the Bernabeu. Plzen's last game in this competition was a 5-0 loss to Roma. Real Madrid's most convincing win came against Roma in Madrid too. It makes Plzen an easy target but could be absolutely catostraphic if they draw or lose.
On the topic of full-backs, Marcelo's future continues to be linked with Juventus. He brings so much to the team on the left but he needs to do more defensively.
The debate surrounding Lopetegui continues. Massive game for him and it's unclear as to whether he is being brave with Vazquez or reverting to a more tried and tested XI of players who know the club inside and out. Vazquez might not be as strong a defender as Odriozola but he has a better rapport with Ramos and Nacho, most importantly. Full-back position has been problemtic for them over the last couple of weeks with injuries and inconsisttency.
Vinicius on the bench tonight. He's not available for the Clásico and might get a chance tonight depending on how it's going.
Viktoria Plzen's starting XI:
Real Madrid XI: Keylor Navas; Lucas Vázquez, Nacho, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco; Bale and Benzema.
Isco says Real Madrid can't cry over a player who didn't want to be there. And he also says that if they sack the manager then the players will all have to go too.
There has been plenty of chat before the game with Jorge Valdano saying Real Madrid took the departure of Ronaldo too lightly.
Hello and welcome to our live online coverage of Real Madrid vs Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League as Julen Lopetegui tries to save his job and Real Madrid try to save their European campaign.
Real Madrid - Viktoria Plzen live online: preview
Real Madrid return to Champions League action on Tuesday night after their loss to Spartak Moscow in the same competition just two weeks ago. Kick-off from the Santiago Bernabeu is at 21:00 CET with Czech champions, Viktoria Plzeň coming to town.
Football has taken a backseat at Real Madrid in recent weeks with more talk about what may or may not happen in the boardroom in the next couple of days. Julen Lopetegui's job hangs by the most slender of threads after they failed to win for the fifth game in a row, which is their fifth without a win. It has become a question of when and who will replace him rather than will he be sacked. Lopetegui, for his part, is still saying all the right things, however, and insisted at the press conference before the Viktoria Plzeň game that if the journalists gathered were "hoping to see a dejected coach, don't look at me, because I'm excited to play the game and to win."
Real Madrid are in the middle of a crisis though and that is not in doubt. It means the spotlight is that little bit sharper and stays on the scene that little bit longer. Body language is assessed with more scrutiny and every word is picked apart for further meaning. Sergio Ramos and Sergio Reguilon's clash in training didn't help with the captain seemingly lashing out at the youngster for a silly tackle on him during a game of touch rugby. The only injury for Lopetegui is Dani Carvajal and he looks set to be replaced by Alvaro Odriozola. Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos should return to the starting XI but it remains to be seen if the manager will try to mould this team as he might like or as he thinks the powers that be might like to see.
Viktoria Plzeň drew with Bohemians 1905 lasy Friday but scored five in the Czech Cup's fourth round before that and are unbeaten since their last game in the Champions League when Roma beat the 5-0. Radim Reznik and Lukas Hejda are back from injury having missed that game on Friday and both should start. Jan Kopic is out with an ankly injury with no others setbacks for Pavel Vrba's side. The Czech champions don't have a great record against Spanish opposition. They have played LaLiga teams six times in the past and lost four times with a draw and a win. They beat Atlético Madrid in 2012-13, which is the same year that the rojiblancos made it to the final before being beaten by Real Madrid.
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