Real Madrid recovered from 1-0 down to defeat bottom of the table Huesca 2-1, courtesy of a brace from Raphael Varane, in yet another underwhelming performance by the defending champions.
The game was evenly balanced in the first 20 minutes, Vinicius Junior getting his first start for nearly two months was active, and nearly opened the scoring. The Brazilian opened up the hosts, but a heavy touch meant he overran the chance after a nice dinky run in the Huesca box.
Marco Asensio has been growing over the past month, and the Spaniard sparked into action with a shot on goal that went for a corner, but he could have cut it back to Luka Modric who was in a better place to have a go from the edge of the box. Real’s best chance came at the half hour mark, two in quick succession. First Alvaro Odriozola made a good overlapping run, and his ball into a dangerous area just needed someone to tap it in, but Asensio slipped at the crucial time and failed to connect.
Then Modric picked out Karim Benzema with an artistic back-flick, the Frenchman’s snap shot forced a good low save from Álvaro Fernández to his left. The home side weren’t quiet for long though, as veteran midfielder Mikel Rico had a hopeful attempt loop over Thibaut Courtois and hit the bar.
After the break, Huesca came out well on top. A fantastic and quick counter, with a final ball from Shinji Okazaki found Javi Galan in acres of space, who’s curling effort from outside the box struck the inside of the post before opening the scoring. Moments later it was nearly two!
Jaime Seoane put in a lovely cross for Rafa Mir, who’s first-time volley hit the bar, Madrid were on the ropes at this point as the hosts smelt blood. Just before the hour mark, the sleeping giants woke up. Benzema rarely stands over a free-kick, but his attempt came back off the cross-bar, when Varane headed in the rebound.
Asensio was the shining light and was making things happen at this point. He won the ball back on the half-way line, and backed it up with a lovely run, before his eventual attempt deflected wide for a corner. Straight down the other end on the counter, Rafa’s back post header looked like a certain goal, and his fourth in two games, but for a superhuman stop for Courtois who slapped it away.
A bit of magic was needed, as Modric, Asensio and Vinicius combined with one-touch flicks and tricks at the edge of the Huesca box, the Brazilian eventually putting it on a plate for Benzema who’s shot was saved by Alvaro. The same again with 13 minute to play, Vinicius with a great run beating his marker, he put in a cross which Asensio cushioned down to Benzema, who fluffed his lines from close range.
But with seven minutes to play, Madrid got the winner. Kroos with a free-kick, Casemiro headed it across goal from the back-peg, and Varane tapped it over the line for his second goal of the contest. Three huge points for Madrid, but questions again need to be asked, should they really be struggling against a team that’s bottom of the league? The disappointing trend just never seems to come to an end.
Up next for Real Madrid?
Who? Getafe CF
When? Tuesday 9th February @ 21:00 CET
Where? Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano