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Three answers and three questions from Real Madrid’s draw at Getafe

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A look at the exceptional circumstances of Sunday’s game.

Getafe v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

It’s happened before and it happened again. After a big midweek Champions League result, Real Madrid then dropped points against weaker domestic opposition. This time, though, the 0-0 draw at Getafe was marked by some exceptional circumstances as Real Madrid were missing so many players. There were no goals in the game, but there is so much to discuss. So, let’s get into it below.

Three answers

1. How would Zidane fit his 11 remaining outfielders into some sort of viable formation?

So, the big discussion point coming into this game was the fact that Real Madrid had so many absences. A mix of suspensions, injuries and COVID-19 left Los Blancos with just 11 senior outfielders for the match, which was actually just nine given that Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema weren’t able to start and only made the bench. So he played all of these nine, plus Víctor Chust. The back four was severely depleted, but at least made sense. Then it was Luka Modrić as a very lonely lone holding midfielder. Then a mush of Marco Asensio, Rodrygo, Isco and Vinícius in behind Mariano as the centre-forward. It was about as weak a team as Real Madrid have played in the Zidane era, but there was really no other alternative.

2. How would Real Madrid’s fatigue match Getafe’s physicality?

Even some of those players who started weren’t 100 percent. And against a team as physically demanding as Getafe, that’s a problem. Every set piece, every long ball, every side-by-side sprint is more physically draining against Getafe than it is against other clubs and Real Madrid were already exhausted going into this game. There was one point in the first half when Vinícius lost the ball and then didn’t sprint back and was criticised for it. Normally that would be fair, but in this game I think he just had nothing left in the tank. And what little there was left in the tank had to be managed smartly. Having Getafe as the first fixture after the draining week of Liverpool twice and El Clásico was probably the worst fixture Real Madrid could have hoped for in a physical sense.

3. How would the Militão and Chust partnership do this time?

Éder Militão was the only senior centre-back available for this game. Just think about that. For this one, he was partnered with 21-year-old Castilla man Víctor Chust in central defence, the same pairing that had played when Real Madrid were eliminated by Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey. That was their only experience of playing together, and it obviously wasn’t a good precedent. But, this time they did far better, with Militão particularly impressive as he kept up his good recent form. It’s true that the defence was breached enough times for Thibaut Courtois to be man of the match, but this was a decent showing from this inexperienced back line.

Three questions

1. Why did Blanco and Arribas play 90 minutes with Castilla?

Considering the complete shortage of bodies, it struck some as odd that Antonio Blanco and Sergio Arribas each played the full 90 minutes in Castilla’s match on Saturday. Couldn’t they have been kept fresher in order to play more minutes for Zidane? Especially considering midfield was the thinnest area? Well, yes. But, as Zidane explained in his post-match press conference, the news that Ferland Mendy and Fede Valverde were also unavailable came too late for a minutes restriction at Castilla to be applied. Maybe, in hindsight, they should have reserved those two just in case. But, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

2. Is Rodrygo’s versatility his weakness?

Rodrygo was the player who looked the most lost of the front five in this game. We discussed this in the post-match podcast and reached the conclusion that he was the one asked to play in the middle because he is more versatile and has more transferable technical skills, but he looked utterly out of place in the middle. If he wasn’t so versatile, maybe he would have simply been tasked with being an out-and-out winger, what he’s best at. But, his versatility saw him asked to perform a role that he probably hadn’t even had a dress rehearsal of in training, given how late Fede Valverde’s drop-out came.

3. Just how great is Courtois?

Six saves for Thibaut Courtois ensured Real Madrid at least took a point from this game. And some of those were very impressive, especially the save to tip over Nemanja Maksimović’s deflected effort. Because of the deflection, the ball arrived at the goalkeeper with such wicked spin and with a parabola that Getafe couldn’t have drawn up better themselves, but the Belgian still managed to avert the danger. He has been brilliant this season, just like he was last year, and is also proving to be a leader. After the game he spoke of not complaining about the injuries and of getting back to work to keep fighting for the title.