Real Madrid’s morale came crashing back down to earth as they were held 0-0 at home by Osasuna on Wednesday night, three days after their big Clásico win over Barcelona. This result is one that will bring about some reflection and Euan McTear does exactly that from the Bernabéu through these three answers and three questions.
1. Would Real Madrid suffer another Clásico hangover?
Real Madrid came into this match on a high, following their 2-1 victory at the Camp Nou. But, that meant there was a possibility for a Clásico hangover. Los Blancos have now won four Clásicos in a row, which they hadn’t done since the 1960s, but they didn’t win the match following their previous three Clásico victories. And, tonight, they have failed to do so once again. Spooling back to March of 2020, the 2-0 home Clásico win then was followed by a 2-1 loss at Real Betis just before the coronavirus lockdown. The 3-1 Camp Nou win last year was followed by a 2-2 draw at Borussia Mönchengladbach, a year ago today actually. Then the 2-1 victory over Barça at Valdebebas in April of 2021 was followed by a goalless draw at Anfield. While that shouldn’t be considered a disappointment since that draw against Liverpool meant Champions League progress, the subsequent LaLiga match was a disappointing goalless draw with Getafe. Tonight, they were held by Osasuna and that’s frustrating. Real Madrid are winning Clásicos, and that’s great, but they need to then hold serve in the following matches.
2. Who’d be more comfortable? The home team who are worse at home? Or the away team who are better away?
Another interesting dynamic to this game was that both of these sides had actually had better results away from home than at home this campaign. In Real Madrid’s case, they came in to this Wednesday night match with an average of 2.4 points per away game and just 1.8 points per home game at the Bernabéu. For Osasuna, they had won all four of their away fixtures so far for an average of three points per road trip, while they’d been collecting one point per game at home in Pamplona. So, would this be another good away result for Osasuna and another disappointing home result for Real Madrid, following the dropped points against Villarreal and Sheriff? With this also the first match at the Bernabéu with (officially) away fans permitted, Osasuna might have felt quite comfortable. And, largely, they did. Real Madrid were the better side, but Osasuna know how to execute a gameplan on the road, as they showed again tonight.
3. Would the fans join in the Benzema Ballon d’Or campaign?
It’s October 27th, but Karim Benzema was only just collecting his LaLiga September Player of the Month award tonight. That’s because this was Real Madrid’s first – and last – home game of the month of October, due to a quirk of the fixture list. So, this was also the first chance for the Bernabéu crowd to truly join in with the ‘Benzema for Ballon d’Or’ campaign that has been ramped up in recent weeks. The fans chanted “Benzema Ballon d’Or” ahead of kick off, as happened with Luka Modric three years ago. Back then, they got to see the Croatian bring back the trophy. Let’s see what happens this year for Benzema…
1. Is Asensio better in midfield now than on the wing?
Marco Asensio had already scored a hat-trick this season, but that came when playing in midfield to allow for rotations against Real Mallorca. His only other start of the season so far had been against Villarreal in the same position, but here against Osasuna he was back in the front three on the right wing. Playing there in the first half, he was very quiet and even dropped deeper on occasion, interchanging with the right-sided midfielder Camavinga. At half time, Ancelotti decided Asensio may as well return to midfield and he deployed the Spaniard in Camavinga’s position, with Rodrygo introduced to right wing. Asensio was immediately more involved in this role and, you have to ask, is Asensio now most effective in the midfield of a 4-3-3?
2. What’s going on with Real Madrid’s shooting from distance?
Real Madrid took a lot of shots from outside the box in this game, but they rarely came close to troubling Sergio Herrera. In fact, the closest one was the super long-range Casemiro punt. In total, Real Madrid took 10 shots from outside the penalty area, way above their season average of 6.3. But, they couldn’t find the back of the net from distance and have just one goal – part of Asensio’s hat-trick vs Mallorca – from a shot outside of the area all season. That’s simply not enough for a squad with so many players capable of long-range finishes.
3. How long will it take for Carvajal to settle back into the side?
Dani Carvajal is back from injury and back in the starting line-up, which is good news from Real Madrid. But, considering the longest run of consecutive matches he has had in the past year is the six he had in December of last season, it was logical that he might not slot back in as quickly as Ferland Mendy has. Carvajal had only accumulated 322 minutes so far under Ancelotti this season and, even though this is a coach he had worked with in the past, as detailed here, this is still an unfamiliar system for Carvajal and it will take some time to get used to the nuances of it. At various points in this game, Benzema could be seen shouting to Carvajal to instruct him where he had to be positionally. It might take a few matches for Carvajal to settle back in to this new version of Ancelottiball, but it’ll be worth it.