After facing all the tough challenges, one would expect the Los Blancos to end the year with a commendable victory against a lower-ranked side like Elche, but sadly, they followed the path of their arch-rivals – Barcelona.
Real Madrid’s five-game winning streak in La Liga came grinding to a halt in a 1-1 draw with Elche.
Cadiz, Valencia, and Elche – Real Madrid should’ve beaten these three teams this season. In those three games, Los Blancos lacked the intensity and focus to compete and ended up losing 8 of 9 of those available points. The weaker the opposition, the more the mediocrity tends to dominate among the Royal Whites.
Playing against the weaker oppositions means bagging enough goals and points – so that the situation does not become chaotic when lean-patches intervene in such long seasons.
Toni Kroos headed narrowly wide from 10 yards in the third minute as Madrid started brightly but it was not long before Thibaut Courtois – making his 100th appearance for the club – had to get down smartly parrying Emiliano Rigoni’s fierce drive away from the corner of his net.
Play swung from end to end and Marcelo shook the crossbar with a rasping half-volley from the edge of the Elche box in the 13th minute.
Luka Modric gave Madrid the lead by sending a header into the top-right corner after Edgar Badia palmed Marco Asensio’s shot onto the crossbar.
Madrid were awarded a penalty only for VAR to show that the ball hit Ivan Marcone’s leg and not his hand, and six minutes into the second half Elche won a spot-kick of their own when Carvajal pulled down Barragan.
10 minutes later Lucas Boye grazed the outside of the post with a low shot from the edge of the Madrid box. Boye fired high and wide after blazing through the Real Madrid defenders and then Carvajal missed a chance to compensate for his mistakes when Badia saved his close-range effort on the counter.
Eden Hazard missed the only opening that came his way and Carvajal conceded a stoppage-time free-kick from which Gonzalo Verdu drew a fine save from Courtois – ensured no horrible outcomes.
Hazard seems to hamper the momentum of the team whenever he features and when he is absent Real Madrid play very well and fight it out. Since he came to Real Madrid, he has delivered nothing but so far proved to be a headache for the side. His well-wishers are focused to save him, but the hero of Stamford Bridge has been a total waste in Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid is not Chelsea and day after day, the best club of the century cannot afford to carry the burden of such an unproductive player from Belgium.
Lucas Vazquez was playing very well on the right, but Zidane substituted him for Hazard – who had to be played on the left and Vinicius Junior was brought on the right to add more intensity by replacing Asensio – seriously, does Vinicius fit well on the right? Just for Hazard, is it necessary to tilt the balance?
One cannot deny, Real were sloppy at the back and needed intensity to overcome the well-organized defence of Elche, but Hazard dented the intensity coming in with twelve minutes remaining when Vazquez was pushing further.