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Eibar-Real Madrid

Eibar 3-0 Real Madrid: match report

Goals from Gonzalo Escalante, Sergi Enrich and Kike García sealed a famous victory for the Basques, who could have inflicted even more damage.

Eibar 3-0 Real Madrid: match report

As honeymoons at Real Madrid go, Santiago Solari’s three-week stroll in the sand was idyllic: Four games and four wins against obliging opposition, plaudits lapping the shore of his fledgling tenure as the goals rattled in at one end and were largely prevented at the other.

After Eibar completely outplayed the European champions to record a 3-0 victory – the first time in the Basque club’s history they had beaten Saturday’s visitors – the marriage contract signed between coach and club has suddenly assumed an air of folly, the football equivalent of staggering out of a Las Vegas shotgun wedding in full Elvis attire.

In Real’s case, the king is still very much alive but the only trace of Zinedine Zidane that remains on the side Solari inherited from the jilted Julen Lopetegui is the Club World Cup winners’ badge emblazoned on the shirt. The players that won three Champions League trophies in succession have long since departed, in person in the case of Cristiano Ronaldo, and in spirit among those who remain.

Florentino Pérez probably assumed his last trick had worked again; promote Castilla coach, turn season around, win stuff. The Real president, watching grimly from the stands in Ipurua, will have been thoroughly disabused of that notion as he witnessed his billionaire assembly cowed and outplayed by a squad that combined cost a few million euros more than Vinicius Junior.

It was no coincidence that Eibar’s masterful victory was orchestrated by the most experienced bandmaster currently operating in Primera. José Luis Mendilibar was overseeing his 183rd game in the Spanish top flight on Saturday, Solari his fifth as a senior manager. What was it Manuel Pellegrini said about guitarists and pianists as a parting shot towards the Bernabéu?

The mismatch was apparent almost immediately as Eibar laid out their stall from the start, playing their manager's tune to perfection. Real were allowed no time on the ball, the defence was harried, the midfield swamped, the attack, such as it was, isolated. The first warning shot was fired as early as the third minute when Kike García unleashed an ambitious effort that the tips of Thibaut Courtois gloves and the woodwork combined to keep out. It was a sign that the home side were brimming with confidence. Real’s recent wins may have smoothed the ruffled feathers of Madridismo but Mendilibar, a wily campaigner, was fully aware that a fox in the chicken coop will sow panic. After the first goal went in, Real never looked like getting back into it. 

His defence remains the weakest link and Solari has found, as have so many of his predecessors, that there is no easy fix in the Quick Guide to Taking Over at Madrid. Compounding that is a plodding midfield, epitomised by Toni Kroos’ lack of urgency. Luka Modric can at least point to a lengthy Russian summer for his lack of incisiveness. Kroos has no such excuse. Neither can Solari fully evade censure when he stubbornly persists with Dani Ceballos, a fine player but one cut from a different stone than the Eibar centre he was expected to tame.

Solari facing an uphill task at Roma, Valencia

Santiago Solari looks on during his side's 3-0 defeat in Ipurua.
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Santiago Solari looks on during his side's 3-0 defeat in Ipurua.Javier EtxezarretaEFE

Gonzalo Escalante, Sergi Enrich and Kike García provided the goals to seal a convincing victory  that could have been even more glorious had Thibaut Courtois had an off-day. As it was, the Belgium keeper spared his side further misery with a sting of fine saves. At least Pérez, whose eye may have alighted on the excellent performance of Marc Cucurella on Eibar’s left while Ronaldo’s supposed heir, Marco Asensio, floundered on Real’s, can satisfy himself with one piece of summer business that came good, even if it was an impulse purchase. 

Lopetegui may not have been the most attractive bride, his main allure being that he was available, but Pérez may wonder as he travels back to Madrid whether the union wasn’t worth a spot of counselling. With Roma and Valencia up next for Solari, El Presi may rue dusting off his sacrificial altar while Lopetegui was still barely over the threshold.

Other than Courtois, only Casemiro will emerge from Saturday with his credit intact. Where Solari looked for a virtuoso on guitar, what he desperately needed was someone to hit the percussion in midfield. That Real have no replacement for the Brazilian is a dereliction of transfer duty. That they were utterly lost without him in Ipurua was further indication of how far the mighty have fallen in just six months

Eibar vs Real Madrid live online: as it happened


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