The La Liga table isn’t lying – Real Madrid are 10th, and will be in the bottom half by the end of game-week 4, losing their second match of the season in Sevilla against a team that simply played with more fire and more guts than the champions did, exemplified by Cristiano Ronaldo having a bad day (again) while being outplayed by a Brazilian right back, Cicinho, that marked him for most of the match.
So is Ronaldo sad? He looked more frustrated to me. That moment when he finally had a clear look and path to the goal, and out of nowhere came a sliding Fernando Navarro to come up with a perfect tackle and save Andres Palop from the wrath of the Portuguese star. Instead, we had Ronaldo yelling like a spoiled child on the ground, begging for some kind of misfortune and have the referee make a mistake and think it was a penalty kick.
And that was Real Madrid’s match. After going down 70 second from the start, everything unraveled for Jose Mourinho. No order and plenty of frustration. Sevilla were ultra-aggressive, with the two 2-6 losses in the previous seasons on their minds. Real Madrid? Weren’t in that kind of state. Didn’t keep a cool head, with both Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria playing terribly and missing out on getting sent off after the referee missed (or chose to ignore) their swipes and kicks at other players.
This is usually Pepe territory, but the centre back who usually gets caught up in the violent action simply played bad, nothing more. He did the usual diving and feigning injuries, but that’s understandable from that kind of player and a Mourinho team. Mesut Ozil simply didn’t show up, while even Xabi Alonso failed to create some order in all the mess.
Mourinho tried sending in Luka Modric to give himself some sort of advantage against Medel and Maduro, putting up a clinic of defensive midfield play, but besides one fantastic shot that produced an even better save from Palop, Modric failed to make his impression on the match. On days like that, when a team simply gives up on tactics and playing to their advantages, they didn’t deserve to get the goal they were desperate to find.
Cristiano Ronaldo was easily the man to focus on. The only time he actually got by the Brazilian right back, who torched the right flank alongside a hard working and inspirational Jesus Navas, his cross was too flat, too weak for Palop not to handle easily. Ronaldo did manage two cuts into the middle, producing long range shots, but nothing more. Subdued and lacking any kind of creativity or actual intelligent play on the day. Two weeks ago, at least he was sad and scored. This weekend, it was simply depressing for him and the Real Madrid players.
The truth is, there’s not much time to prepare of bounce back. Mourinho didn’t have the privilege of letting star players rest. He was 5 points behind when the match began, 8 points behind Barcelona when it was over. Theoretically, an impossible gap to close in the weird reality of the La Liga, but we’re barely in the middle of September. It can’t be over, because it isn’t, especially with the two teams playing each other twice.
The road ahead calls for Manchester City in the group of death, not a very comfortable way to find and try to start a winning run. Real Madrid have conceded in every match they’ve played this season, playing against a team that’s scored in every match they’ve played (but also conceded). Opening the Champions League with a loss can be another turning point for the worst in a season that’s started off in pretty much the worst way possible.