In the end, Real Madrid’s game at Osasuna went ahead despite the some of the snowiest weather in Spain in several decades. Zinedine Zidane wasn’t happy that it went ahead, while Real Madrid could come to regret the two points dropped in this 0-0 draw. Here comes three questions that were answered and three new questions that were generated by this game, with a lot of the below talking points logically focused on this extreme weather.
1. Would the game even go ahead?
Coming into this game, there were serious question marks over whether or not this game would be played. Real Madrid had to spend three and a half hours waiting on the runway at Barajas Airport in Madrid on Friday night just to make it to the city of Pamplona, given the adverse weather of Storm Filomena. Then, on Saturday, it snowed almost all afternoon in Pamplona. The ground staff at El Sadar did an excellent job to clear the snow. But, even then, there were doubts as to whether or not the game should go ahead. It did and the weather was a clear factor in the way the match was played. As the snow kept falling and as the temperatures dropped, the pitch got icy. Very icy. It was hard to play flowing football.
2. Would the conditions affect Zidane’s team selection?
Zidane was asked about this before the game. It was put to him that Vinícius might not be the best option since he has rarely seen snow in his life. He shrugged that off. It was put to him that Eden Hazard might not be the best fit for this game given his recent injury. He shrugged that off too. “He played in London,” Zidane remarked, which made sense. In the end, Hazard started while Vinícius didn’t play a minute. So, it’s unclear how much – if at all – the weather affected Zidane’s team selection. I would have liked to see Fede Valverde in this game for longer and not just the 25 minutes he got. I feel he would have been a solid and direct player for this kind of game. But, we barely got to see that.
3. Would Benzema be fully focused?
There was some worrying news this past week for Karim Benzema as he has been told he’ll be expected to stand trial in the Mathieu Valbuena case. Sometimes as we analyse football, we can get too caught up in xG stats and heatmaps and forget about these personal issues. A development like this is a huge thing in someone’s personal life and it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see if impact Benzema’s professional life too. But, the No.9 seemed as focused as ever. Although he didn’t score, he was heavily involved in the two offside goals that Real Madrid scored. Both were definitely offside and shouldn’t have counted, but it’s encouraging that Benzema was at that heart of those pieces of action, showing a precision that didn’t impact the scoreboard but that proved he is still playing like Benzema.
1. Should the game have gone ahead?
This is related to the first question of the above section. And Zidane was very clear when asked about this in his post-match press conference. He explicitly told the media that he felt the game should have been called off because of the conditions. He said it was because of the state of the pitch and not because of the disruption to Real Madrid’s travel plans. It’s true that the pitch was very hard and very icy in this match, making it difficult to play football. That’s not a criticism of the ground staff at Osasuna, as they worked so hard all day on Saturday to clear the snow. They couldn’t have done much more. It’s just that these were extraordinary circumstances. This kind of weather hasn’t been seen in the heart of Spain in decades.
2. When will the team return home?
Because of the wild weather conditions, Real Madrid decided on Saturday morning that they wouldn’t fly back on Saturday night. They’ve instead stayed another night at their hotel. That’s very unusual, but needs must. Barajas Airport in the capital was closed down on Saturday and the snow continues to fall in the Iberian Peninsula. Real Madrid’s next match is on the opposite side of the country in sunny Málaga on Wednesday and there shouldn’t be any travel issues for that game, but they’ll hope to get back to the capital as soon as possible. Ideally, they should fly back on Sunday. But, there’s a chance it could be Monday and that would bring further disruption.
3. When will Carvajal be back?
Dani Carvajal didn’t play in this game because of suspension, but he’s also injured right now. The matter of when he’ll be back is interesting because his absence is still an important one. Even though Lucas Vázquez has shown that he can fill in well at right-back, he’s still not the same as Carvajal and that was clear to see in this game. It was one of the Spaniard’s poorer performances, while the fact he had to play right-back also meant that Real Madrid lost his ability from the right winger position. Carvajal is still one of the more irreplaceable players in the squad. So, he needs to come back soon.