Real Madrid struggle big time against the lower-ranked teams in La Liga and last night they were frozen out against Osasuna. The Los Blancos were toothless, dropped points, and missed the opportunity to reach the top and by the way, arch-rivals Barcelona are slowly catching them up after that inspiring victory over Granada.

Real Madrid as a whole were missing in El Sadar. The trip to Pamplona started badly with the chaos surrounding the flight, and it was just as disappointing on the pitch as well, which managed to look green because of Osasuna’s staff’s incredible work.

There wasn’t just one, but there were 50. Those staff who left the pitch in a playable condition after storm Filomena had dropped an enormous amount of snow on Pamplona deserve enormous credit.

There was just a little snow and ice left on the pitch, but the work done was outstanding.

Whether it was the disruption to the travel or the freezing conditions, Madrid put in a turgid display and failed to muster a single shot on target in 45 forgettable first-half minutes. There was little improvement after the break – despite two disallowed goals – and Madrid could only move to within a point of Atleti, who now has three games in hand.

The falling snow was the biggest talking point of a dire opening period in which Madrid saw 72.3% of the ball without mustering any effort of real meaning – the only action of note was when Thibaut Courtois smartly parried Oier’s thumping header from Ruben Garcia’s corner.

It took until the 49th minute for Madrid to test Sergio Herrera, who batted away Marco Asensio’s bending effort with relative ease.

Karim Benzema did bundle home after Herrera brilliantly kept out his initial point-blank header, only for the offside flag to swiftly curtail the celebrations.

In the closing stages, Mariano Diaz squirmed home from Benzema’s takedown but both men were offside when the initial pass was played, as a poor game petered out into a draw.

Zinedine Zidane started with Eden Hazard and yet again he was a big flop in the white shirt. He was cold and anonymous. He hasn’t started life at Real Madrid yet, but it is the middle of his second season at the club.

Zidane’s plan is to give him the minutes he needs to get back to his best form, but it’s hard to know if and when that will come – it might never come and the sooner Real Madrid get rid of him, the better.

Again, why did Zidane take off Marco Asensio remains a moot question! He was quite effective than the others and could have changed the course of the game. The Frenchman didn’t have his best day when it came to the changes he made, and nothing he tried came off.

He brought on Mariano Diaz late on, another player who lacked the touch. Vinicius Junior remained on the bench. His problems in front of goal are known, but when he plays he usually makes something happen – but Zidane stuck to his surprising moves.

Most importantly, Asensio looks sharper on the left and with hazard starting, clearly, yet again; it hampered the balance of the side. Zidane has a couple of players who fits well in left and with Hazard firing blanks – he needs to think about the options between Vinicius Junior and Asensio.

After the match, Zidane expressed his frustrations.

“We’ve handled it badly, we did what we could on this pitch,” Zidane said.

“It wasn’t a football match. We don’t know when we’re going to return [to Madrid].”

“It wasn’t a football match. It should have been suspended. But it’s already in the past now.”

“The conditions weren’t right for a match. I’m repeating myself, but that’s how it is.”

The conditions were not good enough, but it was not unplayable.

“We created very few chances,” Kroos said after the game.

“With our quality, we had to create more, even though the pitch was difficult.”

“We knew they were going to defend like this. The pitch isn’t an excuse, both teams played on it.”

“The changes sought to bring what we were lacking,” Kroos said.

“But this time, they didn’t change much.”

“We can’t be happy with this result. We have to fight to be first, and a draw doesn’t help.”


Kroos is spot on and Zidane needs to avoid drop points against the weaker sides and get rid of players who, until now, have not delivered anything.

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