Real Madrid lost against a spirited Real Betis by 2-1 after Zidane’s men played aweful football for the entirety of the match. Zidane is on the course of demolishing everything he has built this season, that too in the most important stretch of the campaign.
The French manager’s suicidal team selection and substiutions made sure Real Madrid will surrender their La Liga lead just one week after the Clasico win. The Real Madrid manager admitted, this was their worst display of the season but he could have easily avoided that. Here how a circus of tactical mistakes had hurt Los Blancos:
Mistake No. 1
Luka Modric’s form has been on and off this season and Zidane has actually used him quite sensibly. But Fede Valverde had to start this game ahead of the Croatian. Betis were physical, hard to break down and pressing very high. Valverde could have been Real Madrid’s x-factor in a midfield that looked terrible out there last night. Modric’s exchanges with Lucas on the right wing did nothing significant for Real Madrid.
Mistake No. 2
Giving the full 90 minutes to Vazquez was another dreadful mistake. The Spaniard is no where near the physical or technical level to compete at such high intesity. All he did was wander on the right, lost the ball continuously on offense, held the ball for way too long when he shouldn’t have done so and put in crosses that never threatened any action that could lead to goals.
Mistake No. 3
Taking off Kroos and holding out subs for way too long was another huge mistake. Kroos made way for a second striker but it was too late. Mariano had more shots than Benzema after coming on late despite the Frenchman playing the whole game. Valverde should have replaced Modric earlier and Mariano should have replaced Vazquez.
How it Happened
The game itself was very fast paced. Real Madrid were extremely sluggish with possession. They could not keep the ball for more thay 4-5 passes. Vinicius got the first close chance for them on the 16th minute that ended in side-netting. Betis got a huge chance on the half hour mark after Madrid defenders lost the ball and Bartra missed a free header. Courtois was at his best once again as he made a brilliant save to stop Fekir’s 20 yard strike.
Betis were constantly pressing and not even allowing Real Madrid to get out of their half. The momentum of the game was completely with the home side. They got the first goal with this momentum. Nabil Fekir was brought down by Ramos and Sidnei scored with a venomous finish that gave Courtois no chance. Casemiro was watching the ball instead of closing down the scorer.
Madrid got a penalty in the stoppage time of the first half as Marcelo was brought down. Benzema scored from the spot and the first half came to an end.
In the second half, nothing changed. Real Madrid made no personnel change and their tactics remained the same as well. Marcelo was the first player to get booked on the 55th minute. The Brazillian was taken off at the hour mark and Mendy came in. Marcelo had a discomfort and could not continue playing. In the meantime, Joaquin missed a huge chance as he failed to score even after rounding the goalkeeper. Modric saved Madrid on that occasion with a clearance.
Real Madrid’s directionless gameplay continued which saw Benzema, the only out and out striker in the team, collecting the ball from practically between the center-backs sometimes. Mariano and Valverde came on for Kroos and Modric but they could hardly make a difference. Mendy hit the post in a brief phase of positive play from Real Madrid.
After a silly giveaway, Guardado calmly passed it to Tello who ran to the goal in a flash to pin the final nail on Real Madrid. Madrid’s reaction was as aweful and impotent as anticipated. Vinicius took a late shot which went miles away from the goal. The crowd’s cheer to this action very late into the game capped-off Madrid’s misery.
Key Events and Line-ups
Betis: Robles; Emerson, Bartra, Sidnei, Moreno; Gonzalez; Fekir, Canales, Guardado, Joaquín; Loren.
Goal(s): Sidnei (40′), Tello (82′).
Sub(s): Tello for Joaquin (66′), Guido for Edgar (73′), Pedraza for Moreno (77′).
Booking(s): Guardado (74′).
Real Madrid: Courtois; Militao, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Lucas, Vinicius, Benzema.
Sub(s): Mendy for Marcelo (59′), Mariano for Kroos (69′), Fede for Modric (79′).
Booking(s): Marcelo (55′).
Referee: Goznalez Gonzalez.