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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

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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