Real Madrid dropped points in two consecutive games now as they head to the international break with a bitter taste their mouths after the 2-2 draw against Villarreal at La Ceramica. Madrid had the chance to build a five-point lead over Barcelona in the opening three games but now they are sitting four points behind Atletico. Real Madrid can only hope for a change of fortunes after the international break when Hazard and James get fit as the team is in shambles at the moment.
Villarreal XI: Andres, Gaspar, Albiol, Pau, Quintilla, Iborra, Cazorla, Moi Gomez, Chukwueze, Ekambi, Gerard Moreno.
Real Madrid XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Mendy, Kroos, Benzema, Bale, Casemiro, Lucas Vázquez, Jovic.
Real Madrid started the game with a flat 4-4-2 formation where Bale and Vazquez were deployed on the wings and Jovic joined Benzema upfront. Ferland Mendy earned his first official start for Real Madrid but Luka Modric missed out on a starting berth. Villareal, on the other hand, started with their usual 4-2-3-1 setup.
Real Madrid started the game well with good defensive shapes but Sergio Ramos lost the ball high up the Real Madrid half on the 12th minute which dissolved the backline once again. Varane was left watching the ball as he didn’t recover from the nutmeg by Gerard Moreno who pounced on a rebound moments later. VAR confirmed Villarreal’s lead but Madrid kept their good shape in defense from there onwards. Ferland Mendy was rock solid in defense, making tackles and hustling down all overloads from the Villarreal right-wing.
Offensively, Madrid didn’t offer much as Toni Kroos and Casemiro were pressed well enough and thus, their vertical passing lanes became almost non-existent. Lucas Vazquez was muscled-over on the right-wing, hence, even crosses became hard to come by. Real Madrid needed a moment of magic to come back in the game and Luka Jovic produced it. The Serbian was being overlooked as attacking outlet thus far but his brilliant flick resulted in Carvajal providing a well-timed ground-cross and Bale made a routine finish from it at the half time mark.
The disappointing offensive trend continued in the second half. Madrid were creating chances here and there but with no great conviction. They were simply outnumbered by the bodies inside the Villarreal box. Luka Modric and Vinicius came on around the 70th-minute mark but it was Villarreal who attained a shock lead again due to dreadful defending of Ramos, Varane, and Carvajal. This time it was Moi Gomez who got on the scoresheet.
Real Madrid kept trying to get the equalizer and got it on the 85th minute, thanks to Modric’s vision and Bale’s beautiful near-post finish. Ironically, it was Bale who received two quick yellow cards within a few minutes to see a red card in the dying seconds of the game.
Real Madrid just can’t catch a break with injuries and suspensions. Bale is in the best form among all the players but he will now be out of action right after the international break. While Real Madrid’s defense remains fragile and out of basics at times, their scoring department isn’t doing well either. This Villarreal side gave plenty of opportunities to create chances but Real Madrid could not cause any significant damage to their defense which was breached 6 times by Levante and Granada who clearly don’t have the same offensive quality in their roster as Real Madrid.