Real Madrid, no reward for trip they were reluctant to take
Real Madrid officials spent a very long day complaining that Saturday’s game in Pamplona should be called off. The original plan was for the squad to fly up on the morning of the game but Barajas airport was temporarily closed to clear the runways after heavy snowfall. LaLiga president Javier Tebas advised Madrid to travel on Friday evening, which they did, causing havoc to their schedule. They were stuck on their plane for four hours, unable to disembark and the club used that time to whinge and take aim at LaLiga through every outlet open to them - and have several... It was a chance to discredit LaLiga, and strengthen the argument for the mooted Super League. In the end their plane took off and the Madrid expedition spent the night in Pamplona. At that point, the general consensus was that the game would surely be called off.
Apathetic Madrid struggle at El Sadar
But it wasn’t. Osasuna’s groundsmen have maintained the pitch in good conditions, covered and heated with lamps with a whole team dedicated to clearing all of the snow which had fallen in the hours running up to the game. In spite of all of the pessimism and protests, the game was played. But somehow, some of the club’s abstentionist doctrine rubbed off on the team who had Hazard in the starting line-up – Zidane is determined to get the Belgian back in form however he can. The players lacked motivation and with Asensio shifted over to the right wing just when he had been doing so well over on the other side. And with Benzema constantly being caught offside.
Atlético with a chance to pull away
All of that against a determined Osasuna side, keen to vindicate themselves against Madrid and they did just that. As for Madrid, Modric and Mendy played well, but the rest were not at the level expected – particularly in attack who were too reliant on Benzema and when he isn’t delivering, the whole things falls flat. Osasuna didn’t win - and they really need to, but for them, a draw against Madrid is an achievement. It’s the opposite for Madrid, who have seen how Messi has suddenly recovered the joy of playing again with Barça having reduced the distance to just three points. They are hot on their trail. And looking at the top end of the table, they can see Atlético looking comfortable. They may only have a two point lead but have three games in hand.
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