Alarm in Real Madrid after the draw in Vila-real (1-1) and before what comes, the visit on Wednesday to Inter Milan in San Siro, in a duel that will largely define the white team’s chances in the Champions League after the initial setbacks against Shakhtar (2-3) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (2-2). Right now Madrid is third in Group B, with four points, tied with Shakhtar and just one point from Borussia, the leader. A defeat in Milan could leave Madrid last and forced to win the remaining six points to secure a place in the round of 16; a draw is the minimum that Zidane’s team can afford.
A duel to the limit, one of those in which Real Madrid tends to move well; He already spent this course at the Camp Nou, against Barcelona (1-3) and in Valdebebas against Inter (3-2). But he appears at the vital appointment of San Siro sending very worrying signals and accumulating bad results: They have only won two of the last five games, against Huesca (4-1) and Inter. Several problems reduce the white capacity at the moment.
Devastated by injuries
Zidane had to travel to Vila-real with seven important casualties: Jovic, Benzema, Ramos, Militao, Casemiro, Valverde and Odriozola. Uncertainty reigns in the club to know how many of them will be able to count on San Siro. Benzema, Militao and Casemiro are the candidates: the first has a muscle injury and is unknown; Brazilians have just overcome COVID-19, but on Friday they gave an indeterminate result in a new PCR and Madrid isolated them as a precaution. They are both pending a new test to certify that they no longer spread the virus. At best, the three of them could be in Milan, which would solve several of Zizou’s problems.
The casualties clearly conditioned Zidane’s eleven against Vila-real: Madrid came out with a Nacho who had just recovered from a defensive injury, without a positional midfielder, with Lucas on the right and with Mariano, who in the previous year and a half had played only 98 minutes, leading the way. He harvested a point in a complicated stadium such as La Cerámica, but the white team showed signs of exhaustion in the second half and is short of troops right now.
Waiting for Hazard
The one who did return to Vila-real was Hazard, once his COVID-19 infection was over. That contagion was a brake on his evolution, which took a leap with that goal against Huesca that recalled his best moments at Chelsea. But the Castellón party again generated concern: 34 good passes of 39, no shots, only 19 movements of the ball in the opposite field and eight losses.
Madrid disbursed a fixed 100 million plus other amounts for objectives to remove the Belgian from Chelsea and lead his new project, with Zidane on the bench. But for now the statistics speak for themselves: he has more injuries (six) than goals (2) and has barely been able to participate in 26 games since he landed in white. He has on his side that Vinicius is not going through a good moment and Zidane has already established that Hazard is immovable in his eleven. But Madrid need him to improve his performance in the most important game of the year, and incidentally to wash the image he left at City’s home in the last Champions League.
Goodbye to the cuirass
If Real Madrid 2019-20 stood out for something, which won the League, it was because of its defensive security: won the first ten games after confinement, conceding only four goals in that stretch. He started the season maintaining that defensive intensity, but in recent times he has clearly lost it: he has conceded goals in the last eight games, a total of 14 goals against in that stretch. Many for a candidate for the Spanish and European titles.
That defensive insecurity is also transmitted by Courtois himself, who last season reached his best level and won the Zamora Trophy, with 20 goals conceded in 34 games, an average of 0.59 goals per game. Madrid’s last two games have revealed a less confident version of the Belgian, who conceded four goals in Valencia (yes, three penalties) and in Vila-real he caused the penalty with which the Yellow Submarine equalized Mariano’s initial goal.
Goals come in droplets
At least Madrid have solved their problems to generate goals in favor … but not too much. He has scored seven games in a row, but in that stretch he has scored only ten goals, an average of 1.4 goals per game. Few for a team with the supposed offensive potential of Madrid, which has only surpassed three goals in a match this year in a match, against Huesca.
In Milan, it is also a mystery to know who will be Madrid’s goal man. Jovic is safe, because he has just been diagnosed with COVID-19 and his recovery for the meeting would be a medical miracle. If Benzema arrives in condition, he will play; if not, Mariano will do it, whose numbers clearly defend that option (he has 11 goals in 1,086 minutes with Real Madrid, one every 99 minutes). And Zidane has already hinted at a new possibility in Vila-real for that position, with Marco Asensio as potential false nine.