Real Madrid went behind, they turned it around to lead 2-1 and they ended up conceding a late equaliser to draw 2-2 with Celta Vigo and to drop points they should really be collecting in this title race. There are questions to answer and questions that have been answered.
1. Would Smolov cause Ramos more stress?
Celta Vigo’s new Russian striker Fyodor Smolov is a really fun player, on and off the pitch. And he has experience of making life stressful for Sergio Ramos. In a pre-World Cup friendly, the forward scored two goals in a 3-3 draw between Russia and Spain where Ramos had a torrid time of it. Then, in the actual tournament in 2018, Smolov was one of those to convert in the penalty shootout as Ramos’ hopes of lifting the World Cup as captain were dashed. Then, here he was again this Sunday night to make life really difficult for Real Madrid. Ramos overcommitted on Iago Aspas – who, incidentally, missed his kick in that shootout – and Raphaël Varane wasn’t fully paying attention, allowing Aspas to pick out Smolov, who finished superbly for the opening goal.
2. What version of Marcelo would we get?
Ferland Mendy has been so good of late, but he was out of the starting line-up for this one and Marcelo came in at left-back. The Brazilian had been disappointing the last few times he’d featured, so how would he do in this game? Well, he was certainly involved. Marcelo got on the ball a lot and, while he often tried to get Eden Hazard on the ball too, the veteran wasn’t afraid to take on cross and shots of his own if possible. Yet it wasn’t coming off. Towards the end, Zidane put Mendy on and kept Marcelo on too, transforming the Brazilian into a headless chicken midfielder, which unsurprisingly didn’t work either. Top marks for effort, but it just didn’t work.
3. What would 60 percent of Hazard look like?
In the build-up to this match, Hazard’s first with Real Madrid in 81 days, there were reports in the Spanish media stating that doctors had estimated the back-from-injury Belgian to be at 60 percent of his optimal level. So, what would that look like? Well, Hazard showed the usual silky technique that he has become known for, displaying a perfect first touch with every pass that came to him, whether from a metre away or from the other side of the pitch. He was rarely able to take his marker on, although one of the few times he showed his speed he won the penalty against Rubén. It’s logical and understandable that he won’t be going full pelt yet, especially with bigger matches coming up and perhaps 100 percent of Vinícius would have given Real Madrid more in this game than 60 percent of Hazard. But it’s important to give the Belgian these minutes so that he can get up to speed.
1. Why does Toni Kroos hate Celta Vigo?
He did it again. Toni Kroos has now scored six career goals against Celta Vigo, which is double the number he has against his next favourite victims – three against Valencia and three against Hertha Berlin. The one he scored on Sunday night, I feel like I’ve seen an exact replica before. There’s something about Celta Vigo that Kroos hates. And I’m so curious to know what it is.
2. Will Ramos finish as the team’s second-top scorer?
It’s another goal for Sergio Ramos, his seventh of the season. This puts him level with Rodrygo as the second top scorer for Real Madrid this season, quite some distance behind the 18 of Karim Benzema. There will be many more penalties to come this season and surely some typical gritty Ramos goals too, like the one he scored at the start of Sunday’s second half that was ruled out for offside. So will the captain be able to finish he season as the second-top scorer, after finishing third in that ranking last campaign? We’ll soon find out.
3. Why is Real Madrid’s away form better than the home form? And can it be fixed for Manchester City?
Not for the first time, Real Madrid dropped points at home to a team they should have defeated. This was their fourth home draw in the league this season, after also taking just one point against Real Valladolid, Real Betis and Athletic Club. In total this season across all competitions they’ve had 16 home games and have won nine, drawn six and lost one. Away from home, they’ve had 17 games and have won 11, drawn four and lost two. That’s concerning, especially as they have the Champions League first leg against Manchester City next. Can they turn the home for around for that? Perhaps with it being a big and atmospheric European night, they just might.