Despite putting together such a good run over winter, Real Madrid will go into next weekend’s Clásico second in the table. That’s because Los Blancos responded to Barcelona’s 5-0 thrashing of Eibar by losing 1-0 away at Levante. Here, we answer some questions from this game and throw up some new queries too.
1. Would Real Madrid recover their lead in the all-time goals scored standings?
With Barcelona putting five past Eibar earlier on Saturday afternoon, the Catalan side moved ahead of Real Madrid in LaLiga’s all-time goals scored charts. Real Madrid had led this standing for some time. In fact, they’d been ahead in this since 1962. But, Real Madrid went into the Levante game now trailing Barcelona 6,151 goals to 6,150. So, would they pull level or move back ahead? No was the answer. Real Madrid couldn’t find a way through despite dominating the opening hour and despite getting off seven shots on target.
2. Who would win Marcelo vs Morales?
Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder was the big bout of the night, but on the undercard we had Marcelo vs José Luis Morales. Or, at least, we thought we did. The Levante captain had only scored one league goal prior to this game and was having a very quiet season by his high standards, but this time the line-up sheets suggested he’d be going up against Marcelo and this had brought a lot of joy to other right-sided wingers in recent weeks and months. Yet Morales was given license to roam and actually spent more time on Dani Carvajal’s side than he did on the side of Marcelo, who actually had quite a good game. It was down Levante’s left and Real Madrid’s right that Morales broke free to score the goal that decided the game.
3. Would Real Madrid concede to another loanee?
Without any ‘fear clauses’ in Real Madrid’s loan contracts this season, the players who are on loan from Los Blancos around Spain are able to play against their parent club this season. Already, this has seen some players whose rights are owned by Real Madrid score against Zinedine Zidane’s team. Martin Ødegaard was one, doing so in the Copa del Rey for Real Sociedad, and Borja Mayoral was another, doing so in Levante’s 3-2 loss at the Bernabéu earlier in the season. So, how would he do this time? Well, he played 88 minutes but had a very quiet game as Levante were focussed on defending instead of attacking for most of it. His only two shots were both blocked.
1. How serious is Hazard’s injury?
The biggest question by far to come out of this game concerns Eden Hazard’s injury. The Belgian limped off just after the hour mark after injuring his right ankle, the same one that had kept him out for 81 days. He’ll go for tests on Sunday, but there is major concern. “It doesn’t look good,” Zidane said in his post-match press conference. With Manchester City and Barcelona on the horizon, all Real Madrid can do now is wait and hope.
2. When will Alejandro Hernández Hernández referee a Real Madrid match again?
“Hi, I’m Alejandro Hernández Hernández. You may remember me from such films as ‘Bale’s disallowed goal at the Camp Nou in 2016’, ‘the non-penalties on Varane in last December’s Clásico’ and ‘the handball drama of Levante’.” There was concern among Real Madrid media personalities going into this weekend’s match over the return of Hernández Hernández, an official who has frustrated Real Madrid in the past, and there was further refereeing fury in this game as Real Madrid felt they should have had at least one penalty for handball. Sergio Ramos, who was booked in the 10th minute, was in an especially angry mood afterwards. “I’m annoyed with Hernández Hernández,” he said. “I asked him if he had any personal problem with me and, if he did, to tell me so we could work it out.” It could be a while before Hernández Hernández is given another Real Madrid game…
3. Can Real Madrid turn it around?
After suffering three strikes and being knocked out of everything in one week last season, Real Madrid must be determined not to let something similar happen again. This week could define the entire season, with Manchester City in the Champions League and Barcelona in LaLiga coming up after this setback at Levante. So, the big question is: can Real Madrid turn this around? We’ve seen in the past that when Real Madrid appear to be at their weakest and with their backs to the wall, that’s when they put together a world-class performance. Let’s find out if they can respond in a similarly positive way over the coming days.