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Immediate Reaction: Eibar 3 - 0 Real Madrid

Solari’s men blown away in Ipurua

SD Eibar v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Eibar beat Real Madrid 3 - 0 (Escalante, Enrich, Kike) in Ipurua. Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: player ratings, tactical review, and post-game podcast.

Real Madrid, even amid all their injuries, put out a very strong XI today. In Carvajal and Casemiro’s absence, Odriozola and Ceballos slotted in, and as good as that looks on paper, little did they (or anyone) know how badly they were going to struggle in Ipurua against Eibar.

Eibar was brilliant, and Real Madrid couldn’t respond. The question all season for Lopetegui was ‘how can Real Madrid break down low blocks against so many La Liga teams?’. Today, rather, Solari was asking how to get into the opposition’s half. Mendilibar danced with a high line and opted to make Real Madrid’s build-up from the back difficult. Real Madrid is usually pretty good in those situations, because it allows them to use their technical ability to move up the pitch with passing triangles. But Modric and Kroos couldn’t get the ball in good positions, and they found it difficult to pick out outlets. There was space on the counter, as a consequence of Mendilibar hedging his team high, yet Solari’s men couldn’t beat Eibar’s offside trap which worked efficiently.

Ceballos is not a defensive midfielder. He can play as a box-to-box presence and do a lot of great defensive work. Like Kovacic, if you play him as a lone anchor, you’re unfairly putting him to the sword. A 4-2-3-1 with either player works just fine, but Ceballos was treading water on his own today. He works hard, and got back in transition plenty in this game; but was often alone and overwhelmed, and unsure where to be defensively as he had to close one or two Eibar shirts at once with no other Real Madrid player in sight to help.

A recurring problem over the past two seasons: It takes one or two passes to break Real Madrid on a counter or after a set-piece high up the pitch. Seven Real Madrid players were in and around the box when Ceballos mishit his shot and Eibar countered for the opening goal. Ceballos gets back and has to mark two players. He probably should’ve gone to the near post while hoping Asensio gets to Escalante in time:

We didn’t see any adjustments in the second half from Solari to help stabilize the midfield; and as Real Madrid continued to struggle getting out of the back, Eibar scored their second goal in the 52nd minute. Kroos’s cross-field switch to Odriozola wasn’t weighted well, and the right-back (who left after the play with an injury), gave the ball away to Cucurella, with Sergi Enrich capping it:

Five minutes later, Raphael Varane (who up until that point, was one of Real Madrid’s encouraging defensive players) completely fell asleep and allowed Kike to sneak through at the near post:

At 3 - 0; there was just no response from Real Madrid. I don’t think anyone expected Solari’s men to make a comeback the way they were playing, but by the end of the match, Madridistas were relieved it wasn’t worse. Down three goals, the team looked defeated. One telling sign was Sergio Ramos hitting unattainable long balls to Marco Asensio from the back. There was no creative process in Real Madrid’s attack. Defensively, Marcelo started taking more gambles and leaving space behind him for Orellana, and Eibar had plenty of chances to score their fourth.

This was a really disappointing performance all around.

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