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Real Madrid and Barcelona plucked like birds of a feather


Real Madrid’s calamitous performance against Cádiz was followed up shortly afterwards by one of similar proportions from Barcelona against Getafe in the Coliseum. I don’t say equal because one thing is losing at home and another is being defeated away and because on paper at least, newly promoted Cádiz are less of a threat than established Getafe, although after Saturday the Andalusians merit a fresh set of eyes from pundits. Part of the explanation for the result in the Alfredo di Stéfano, where Real Madrid were unbeaten since the restart last season, was Cádiz’s expertly executed game plan. The visitors were unstoppable on the break and fashioned enough chances in the first half that they deserved a wider lead and they were equally formidable after the break in their second assignment of shutting down Madrid’s attack. Cádiz passed every test Zinedine Zidane presented with flying colours.

What really stood out was Cádiz’s assurance, above all that of Álvaro Negredo, who provided his former club with a masterclass. Zidane certainly lent the visitors a hand with a reckless starting XI that he was forced to rectify with four changes at half time. With Toni Kroos playing the Casemiro role it was easy for Negredo to find space and Cádiz took full advantage. To that can be added the Marcelo conundrum. Not only has the Brazilian become a defensive hole, he is offering nothing going forward and his performance was a symptom of a general malaise among Zidane’s players after the international break. Vinicius and Karim Benzema deserved some credit for having a go, but little else. It was a poor game from a team that does not possess the game changers on the bench of recent years.

Griezmann and Barcelona play the blues in Getafe

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Exactly the same is true of Barcelona: a dose of the FIFA virus and the blues in Getafe. Antoine Griezmann played in the middle and missed a sitter, which will stoke the flames of his umbrage with Ronald Koeman, who moved him in from the wing perhaps to make a point. But Griezmann was not the only Barça player who had a bad game. Koeman’s side could draw little comfort from the result other than complaining about an elbow on Leo Messi that provoked a tweet from Joan Laporta, the former president yearning for the days when he knew how to cultivate a kind eye from referees. When all is said and done, Barça and Real Madrid both suffered setbacks with the Champions League and the Clásico next week. Combined with Sevilla’s defeat in Granada, Atlético came out of Saturday the winners after earning 12 points: the three they pocketed and the nine their rivals dropped.