Mendizorozza, Vitoria – Real Madrid were unable to better the goalscoring record set by Pele’s Santos in the sixties and score in 74 consecutive matches on Wednesday evening. Real Betis came to the Bernabeu and prevented Real Madrid from scoring for the first time since April 2016 when they drew with Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final at the Etihad. However, not only did Real Betis stop Real Madrid from scoring, they managed to go one better. The match clock was on 93 minutes when Antonio Sanabria headed a clipped ball from Barragan into the Real Madrid net.
Since Wednesday night, Betis have been lauded around Spain for their performance and victory whilst Real Madrid’s stuttering start to the La Liga season received another examination by the Spanish press. The pressure was on Zidane’s men when they travelled up north to Vitoria to take on Alaves who were still searching for their first goal never mind their first points.
With Toni Kroos injured and Luka Modric rested for the trip to Dortmund in midweek, Zinedine Zidane selected Dani Ceballos for his first start since joining Real Madrid in the summer. Madrid were also without the injured Karim Benzema and Marcelo, while Gareth Bale was left on the bench. It was the debutante who opened the scoring in the 10th minute – after receiving a pass from Asensio; he rode a tackle before shooting just inside the post to put Real Madrid ahead.
A sense of calm and serenity emerged amongst the Madrid players – a routine victory for the current domestic and European champions seemed to be on the cards. But a miraculous event occurred just before half-time when Alaves scored a goal. The crowd at the Estadio de Mendizorozza were rightly surprised and stiff when it came to celebrating their side’s first goal this season. It was Manu Garcia who had the honour – a powerful header from a cross by Munir flew past Navas in the Madrid goal.
Alaves – who were under the caretaker management of Javier Cabello until Gianni De Biasi takes over at the start of the week – could not hold on for long. In fact, only three minutes. Ceballos scored another – once again a debutant repaying Zidane after Borja Mayorals’ impressive performance last weekend. Alaves goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco fumbled at a Dani Carvajal cross when he collided with his own defender; the ball kindly rolling to Ceballos who struck the ball into the bottom corner.
The match became an open affair with both sides creating chances. Alfonso Pedraza had two chances of note – one deflected shot beat Keylor Navas but came off the bar whilst another shot struck the post. Sergio Ramos was also amongst the chances with a disallowed headed-goal and an open goal miss from eight yards. Ronaldo – who started his first game in midweek after his suspension – hit the goal-frame twice in the second-half but was unable to get his first league goal of the season.
Los Babazorros haven’t had much to shout about so far this season and despite the excitement of Saturday’s match, they remain pointless at the bottom of the table. When De Biasi takes over he will have a difficult task on his hands to take Alaves higher up the table – the loanees, that were successful last season in the run to the Copa del Rey final, have all returned to their clubs and the new squad is still finding its feet.
Zidane, on the other hand, admitted post-match that ‘it’s not a brilliant time’ for Real Madrid but ‘there has to be patience’. Patience is not always a virtue at Real Madrid – with a difficult Champions League match in Dortmund on Tuesday and a seven-point gap between themselves and Barcelona, this patchy form must relent to prevent the Madridistas from getting cold feet.
Los Otros Puntos
The crowd at the Montilivi rose as one. Their team were three goals down and had seen two own goals but that was irrelevant. Every one of the 13,305 present on Saturday evening applauded as Andres Iniesta left the pitch in the 80th minute. Girona had never played their Catalan neighbours in the league before and the opportunity of welcoming Barcelona to their humble home was a dream come true. Their respective histories could not be more diverse. When Barcelona were collecting La Liga titles, Champions Leagues and defining an era under Guardiola, Girona were in the Tercera, Segunda B, and Segunda divisions. And despite the fact that Aday Benitez and goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz inadvertently steered the ball into their own net before Luis Suarez sealed the victory in the 69th minute with a shot inside the near post, the home crowd wanted to show their appreciation for Barcelona and a player in Iniesta who epitomised their recent success.
- Atletico Madrid are still unbeaten in La Liga and secured their second win at the Metropolitano against Sevilla on Saturday in front of Diego Costa, who is set to rejoin Atleti in January. Sarabia and Filipe Luis both had shots against the woodwork for either side before Yannick Carrasco rounded Sergio Rico to score Atletico’s first. Griezmann secured the victory midway through the second-half by smashing the ball through the legs of the Sevilla goalkeeper. The next visitors to Atletico’s new home are Chelsea on Wednesday, which represents Atletico’s biggest test of the season thus far.
- The fans left Ipurua disappointed and slightly concerned after their side succumbed to a heavy home defeat to Celta Vigo. Eibar – who have won two of their opening five matches – have endured their poorest start in La Liga since they were promoted in 2014. Sunday’s 4-0 loss came after conceding six at the Camp Nou in midweek.
- There was entertainment aplenty at La Rosaleda – six goals, a red-card and Malaga’s first point of the season.
Matchday 5 (midweek):
Valencia 5–0 Malaga
Barcelona 6–1 Eibar
Athletic Bilbao 1–2 Atletico Madrid
Leganes 0–0 Girona
Deportivo 1–0 Alaves
Real Madrid 0–1 Real Betis
Sevilla 1–0 Las Palmas
Villarreal 0–0 Espanyol
Celta Vigo 1–1 Getafe
Levante 3–0 Real Sociedad
Atletico Madrid 2–0 Sevilla
Alaves 1–2 Real Madrid
Malaga 3–3 Athletic Bilbao
Girona 0–3 Barcelona
Espanyol 4–1 Deportivo
Getafe 4–0 Villarreal
Eibar 0–4 Celta Vigo
Las Palmas 0–2 Leganes
Real Sociedad 2–3 Valencia
Real Betis – Levante to be played on Monday
El Jugador de la Semana: Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid)