No sooner had last night’s Champions League tie concluded than Butragueño unequivocally showed his support for Lopetegui, who will be in the dugout to oversee Sunday’s El Clásico. This backing is open to interpretation: whether it is because Florentino is yet to find a replacement or because he was convinced by yesterday’s win. At any rate, Madrid won, albeit without the gloss that was called for beforehand, and at least the victory eases the tension on a team that was on a wretched run of four defeats and one draw in five games. Things currently remain intact; Madrid are on course in the Champions League and are even within touching distance in LaLiga with a trip to the Camp Nou on the horizon.
Yet the win failed to bring redemption, and Madrid have not got their swagger back. You no longer see that high press from Loeptegui’s early games in charge, nor is there harmony in their play and goals don’t come easily. Benzema had a good game, opening the scoring and skilfully leading the attack, but he was almost alone in his endeavors and performance level. The Frenchman scored early on in the first half with a fine header, but just prior to that Viktoria had a golden chance to take the lead through Hrosovsky. Los Blancos were booed down the tunnel at half time by a crowd waiting for vindication that never came.
Boos and whistles
The second half was not much better, and Lopetegui made a bold and unpopular change, bringing Valverde on for Isco. Madrid scored just after, however, making in 2-0 in a slick and intricate move delicately finished off by Marcelo. But the scoreline flattered and Madrid were neither here nor there, going close to making it 3-0 only to concede and spread a twitchy murmer around the stadium. To further complicate matters, they were left with ten – Marcelo was forced off – just as the Madrid coach had decided to make a third change. The bottom line is that Madrid won three points, but to boos and whistles as the players departed. And to top it all off Lopetegui will lead Madrid into the Camp Nou. We’ll be glued to our screens.