Real Madrid ended its first of the season in the same fashion as it started its season – with a draw. A drab, boring, snooze worthy, dull and lifeless game was the order in Pamplona as it finished 0-0 with Osasuna with Cristiano suspended. Nine shots and only one shot on target, both season lows.
Not the first time that Real have been involved in a boring and lackluster performance this season. But, most of those performances have lasted for a half in most cases but this was a spineless display spanning the entire 90 minutes.
This leaves Real a staggering eighteen points behind league leaders Barcelona who to their credit have been sensational in the first half of the season. While Real have only mustered 37 points, Barcelona are on 55 points. To add salt to the wounds, Atletico Madrid are ahead of Real Madrid by 7 points as well. A statistic – this is Atletico Madrid’s biggest lead over Real after 19 games since 1995/96 (14 points)
Real Madrid started slowly with a draw against Valencia at home. Somber note to begin with but expected given it was a tough opponent after the players had little time to gel together post the European Championship.
Second matchday brought about a surprise as Getafe proved triumphant with a 2-1 scoreline courtesy two second half goals. A week to remember for everyone as Real had lost to Barcelona in the first leg of Super Copa and then in the league. Coliseum was a difficult place to go for many top clubs last year but Real had never had any problems disposing off their city rivals.
Before this, Real had easily disposed off Granada, another Madrid based club, with much ease. A 3-0 victory for Los Blancos at the Bernabeu with Cristiano Ronaldo bagging a hatrick.
It is safe to say that Seville will be Real’s most disliked place this year. First it was Sevilla with a 1-0 win with an early goal by Piotr Trochowski on matchday four and then it was Real Betis with a Beñat goal on matchday thirteen to take all points from depending champions.
After the trip to Sánchez Pizjuan, Real made a short but eventful trip to the Vallecas to take on Rayo Vallecano. Bunch of fans not happy with the functioning of the club managed to sneak into the stadium’s electricity room and cut the wires to the stadium’s floodlights. This forced the game to be pushed from Sunday to Monday. Unphased by the scenes, Real came out easy 2-0 victors.
Real made little of Deportivo La Coruña at home with a crushing 5-1 win as Cristiano bagged yet another hatrick in the season.
Then came the Clasico, the mother of all games. Having won the Super Copa, Real were the frontrunners going into the game. Recent results at the Camp Nou had also started to fall into our favour. It was Tito Vilanova’s first game in charge of Barcelona in the league against Real. As the referee blew the final whistle, Real must have felt the more relieved of the two. Cristiano started the scoring but Lionel Messi brought Barcelona back in it. First by making most of a defensive lapse in Real’s box and then with a gorgeous free kick. Cristiano didn’t take long to equal matters as he beat the offside trap to tuck his right footed shot past a hapless Victor Valdes. A draw, Barcelona’s only points dropped in the first half of the season.
Thereafter, Real picked three comfortable victories against Celta Vigo (2-0), Real Mallorca (5-0) and Real Zaragoza (4-0).
Next up was a trip to the ever hostile Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, home of Levante. The game proved to be a difficult one mostly due to the conditions as there was consistent heavy rain during the game. The ball barely moved freely and Levante’s players improvised really well by keeping the ball in the air and playing a long ball game. In spite of this Cristiano started the scoring with a neatly controlled and then converted goal. Cristiano was forced to receive treatment near his eye in the third minute for an elbow in his face. This forced him to be taken off at half time. Levante got back into the game in the second half with an Angel goal. Xabi Alonso had the chance to put Real back ahead but he missed from the spot. Luckily, for the team, Alvaro Morata came off the bench to head in a winner in the final minute of the game, much to the delight of pro-Canterano supporters.
Real then picked up easy wins over Athletic Bilbao (5-1) and then arch-rivals Atletico Madrid (2-0) at the Bernabeu. Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil were on hand to get Real all three points against a well-shaped Real Valladolid side. The Frenchman and German were needed to score and bring us into the game on three occasions to avoid further embarrassment.
The year was rounded off with poor displays. First a 2-2 draw against Espanyol and then a 3-2 loss to Malaga. Having controlled the second half and leading in the Espanyol game, the players let their concentration dip and Juan Albin was on the mark to make sure that the Barcelona based club didn’t go home without anything. The Malaga game was another proof of erratic display of football. The biggest story, however, was that of benching of Iker Casillas and having Antonio Adan in-goal. Malaga took the lead courtesy neat interplay by Pellegrini’s men on the edge of the box as Isco scored. Sergio Sánchez was unlucky to then score an own goal thereby bringing the game to 1-1 after 66 minutes. That is when another moment of drop in concentration happened and Roque Santa Cruz made most of it. Twice. Benzema did score a goal in the 82nd minute to give eight minutes of late rally but they weren’t enough in the end.
The year certainly started with a bang at the Bernabeu. Adan again started the game but he didn’t stay on the pitch for long as he was shown a red card and a penalty given to Real Sociedad which Xabi Prieto converted with ease. Iker was brought on as a replacement. Before all this drama, Benzema took only two minutes to put Real ahead. Sami then scored with an improvised backheel but Prieto was again on hand to score for La Real as the teams went into the tunnel with a 2-2 scoreline. Cristiano brought the home side into the game and leading with two gorgeously struck goals. Prieto scored again to try for a late rally but thankfully for the home faithful, it didn’t come.
Having picked up five cautions, Real travelled to Pamplona without Cristiano. Thus ensued probably the most boring game of the La Liga season thus far for any team. A tame draw to bring to an end what has been a poor half season so far. It is almost impossible to have any chance of bridging the gap on Barcelona. The only hope remains is to make sure second place finish and go for the remaining two competitions – Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League.