A few hours before the match kicked-off Estadio El Alcorbaz, the news of Sergio Ramos undergoing surgery for his left knee meniscus, which would keep him out of action for at least 4 to 6 weeks, definitely dented the morale of Real Madrid. Ramos is the leader at the back and dictates the game from behind – a catalyst that proved handy last season.

But still, the show must go on and Real Madrid need to buck up and not lose points against another lower-ranked side.

With the absence of Ramos, Eder Militao, Dani Carvajal, Lucas Vazquez, Rodrygo Goes and Fede Valverde; Zinedine Zidane, who returned to the dugout after recovering from COVID-19, made two changes – Vinicius Junior and Nacho Fernandez started and the lack of depth in Real’s squad is highlighted by the fact that the Los Balncos named just six substitutes.

It was no surprise that Pacheta sticks with the same XI that began Huesca’s impressive win over Real Valladolid last weekend. Notably, names include veteran striker Shinji Okazaki – an English Premier League title winner with Leicester City in 2016. He is partnered up front by Wolves loanee Rafa Mir, who netted a hat-trick last time out. Javi Ontiveros returns from suspension on the bench.

Within 4 minutes, Mir got away down the right flank with the spaces available and sent a low cross looking for Okazaki, who was unable to turn the ball towards goal. It was the sort of start, which the home side needed and a reminder given to the visitors to fix their defence and gain more control on the ball.

And, guess what, loose pass by Modric is pounced on by Seoane, and suddenly Real were on the back foot. The ball was neatly played into Mir, whose first touch takes him a little wide before he fired into the side-netting from a tight angle.

Those two threats shook the Los Blancos, but they tried to reorganize.

Vinicius Junior neatly moved away from a couple of challenges and attempted to cut the ball back for Karim Benzema, but it was just lacking the required pace and accuracy – Huesca cleared.

Real Madrid tried to pile the pressure on Huesca, but were caught on the counter.

Mir chases a long ball over the top of the defence. However, Thibaut Courtois was quickly out of goal and cut-short the threat.

Real responded with Toni Kroos releasing Vinicius in behind the Huesca defence. He subsequently lifts the ball over the advancing goalkeeper, but it dropped just wide of the post. Although, a goal would not have counted as the offside flag was raised shortly after the conclusion of play.

Huesca organized themselves and kept the visitors at bay and the first half ended 0-0 with the home team taking the credits.

After the Huesca hit the paddle and rolled the ball with the intent to exploit the fragile backline of the visitors.

They attacked and were are whiskers away from breaking the deadlock – A low ball into the box helped on by Rico, who watched his looping shot cannon against the woodwork with Courtois beaten.

And after a while, Javi Galan stunned the visitors.

Following a quick-fire counter, Okazaki exhibited tremendous vision to pull the ball to the edge of the area for the onrushing Galan. The winger took a touch to steady himself, before unleashing a thumping volley that flashed into the top corner.

Clearly, it was defensive mishap where Galan was left alone with acres of space to execute his shot.

Real Madrid 0 Huesca 1.

3 minutes later, the woodwork denied Huesca a second goal in quick succession -A long ball over the top of the Madrid defence picked out Mir, whose first-time volley rattles the crossbar.

But, thankfully, the Los Blancos did not go down morally and attempted to respond quickly.

Real Madrid were awarded a free-kick and Benzema rattled the bar with a fierce shot – but as the ball dropped from the air, Varane reacted the quickest to head home on the rebound.

Two minutes later, Marco Asensio embarks on a powerful run into the heart of the Huesca defence. He switched to the left from right and created space to shoot, but a slight deflection from Pulido takes it just wide of the target.

At the other end, Mir ghosted in at the far post to meet Galan’s deep cross from the left flank, but his powerful header was marvellously saved by Courtois. Then Escriche embarked on a strong run and looked to thread the ball through for a team-mate, but a sliding Varane intercepted in the nick of time.

Amid the pressure in the penalty area of Real Madrid, Benzema broke through – A lovely link-up play took the Los Blancos into the opposition penalty area. Fernandez produced a smart save to deny Benzema from a tight angle.

A few minutes later, Fernandez produced a miraculous save and Benzema just could not believe that he failed to score from such a great position – six yards from the box.

Modric’s deep cross to the far post was cushioned down for Benzema to strike. His left-footed volley is destined for the top corner, but Fernandez was there to deny again.

With 7 minutes remaining, Real earned another free-kick and Kroos floats one to the far post – Fernandez can only parry Casemiro’s header straight into the path of Varane, who bundled the ball home from a close range.

A Varane brace was enough to decide the fate of the match. The French defender earned harsh criticisms for scoring own-goals, but this time around he came big when it mattered the most – saved Real Madrid from another humiliation against a lower-ranked side, who looked dangerous on the break and breached the Real backline more often at their own backyard.

It was great to see Zidane involving the Castilla players who stepped up under pressure.

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A tense affair won and this should motivate going into the midweek Getafe Derby.

 

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