In the lead-up to the match against Villarreal last week, Zinedine Zidane’s men were in winning form and started the season very well with 5 straight victories in all competitions. Just under a week later, though, the reigning Champions League winners find themselves dealing with a common occurrence, drawing games that are simply winnable.
Villarreal, La Liga — Matchday 5
In the first match against a weakened Villarreal side, Real Madrid gifted the opposition a penalty just before the end of the first half. Ramos’ hand was visibly caught touching the ball inside the penalty area, and Bruno Soriano converted the spot kick to give the “Yellow Submarines” a 1-0 lead in the Bernabeu.
MADRID, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 21: Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid competes for the ball with Jonathan Dos Santos (R) of Villarreal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Villarreal CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 21, 2016 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by fotopress/Getty Images)
Despite the early deficit, Ramos made up for his mistake by heading home a goal early in the 2nd half. Tied at 1 a piece, Real Madrid never really found their stride and settled for a single point, putting a close to the 16 match La Liga win streak. This match was easily winnable. Villarreal never posed too much a threat and if it weren’t for the penalty, Madrid would see themselves making history.
Las Palmas, La Liga — Matchday 6
In the last La Liga match the Royal Whites played in, Zizou and co. travelled to the island and took on Las Palmas. This fixture, no matter the season, always seem to give Real Madrid problems. Asensio opened the scoring capitalizing on a Nacho rebound in the 33rd minute. Las Palmas were quick to respond and at the halftime break, the score was level. Benzema gave Real Madrid the lead off a rebound from a close Cristiano strike, and all seemed right again in theory.
LAS PALMAS, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 24: UD Karim Benzema (L) celebrates with his team mate Gareth Bale after scoring his team’s second goal of Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between UD Las Palmas and Real Madrid CF on September 24, 2016 in Las Palmas, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Unfortunately, Las Palmas had other ideas and were closing out the game on a strong note. Crossing flanks, playing 1-2s and holding possession, Las Palmas caused the Real Madrid defence problems. As a result, they created their own luck and ended up tieing the game in the 85th minute. Just like that, Real Madrid dropped 4 points in 3 days.
Borussia Dortmund, Champions League — Matchday 2
Finally, Real Madrid returned to the Champions League with a mid-week clash against Borussia Dortmund. With the bad form recently, Real Madrid were looking to bounce back and set themselves apart in the group. Unluckily for them, Thomas Tuchel and his team posed as tough competitors and made the night a very long 90 minutes. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 17th minute but once again Real Madrid conceded closing out a half. Navas, in his first game this season, chose to punch the ball instead of catching it on a BVB free-kick. In turn, the ball hit off Varane’s head and started to roll towards the goal line until Aubameyang toe-poked it into the back of the net.
Raphael Varane redeemed himself in the 2nd half though as he slotted home a goal off a well-designed set-piece. Real Madrid picked up their play from here on out and actually outplayed the home team until the last 10 or so minutes. In the end, Dortmund scored a late 87th-minute equaliser and joined Madrid at the top of the group with 4 points. The taste of a draw is as sour as the taste of defeat, especially with a squad such as Real Madrid.
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Each time the players set out on the pitch, 3 points and victory must be met. If it isn’t, questions must be asked. The past 3 matches across all competitions have a similar vibe to them – Madrid make a mistake, the opponent score and in the end, we settle for a draw. One thing is for sure, if Real Madrid don’t win matches soon, someone will have to be held accountable.