Ah, classic Real Madrid. After defeating five top-seven clubs in Real Sociedad, Atlético Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Granadilla, and Levante (four of those in the month of March), and leading Barcelona for 50+ minutes in the Champions League quarter-finals, they lost 3-1 to 13th-placed Sporting Huelva.
Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that we couldn’t watch this one (no, it’s embarrassing that we still can’t view every game).
Las Blancas went with a fairly strong lineup vs. Sporting; 4-4-2/4-2-3-1 (left to right): Misa; Svava, Rocío, Babs, Kenti; Møller, Zornoza, Teresa, Athenea; Esther, Nahikari.
But the home side roared back with an intense approach and Anita Marcos equalized in the 20th minute, although the scorer might’ve been offside from the vantage point of one journalist, who witnessed events unfold live in the stadium.
Tras el gol del Real Madrid, igualó en intensidad el Sporting y las madridistas comenzaron a errar pases en zona de construcción. Llega el empate de Anita Marcos que remató sin marca tras el pase de Hannah Keane. Posición dudosa de Anita. Desde mi posición creo que está Offside— Alejandro Pecci (@Ale_Pecci97) April 3, 2022
Thirteen minutes later, Marcos notched a brace by dispatching a Hannah Keane cross. To make matters worse, Sofie Svava was sent off in the 42nd minute for a double-yellow card infraction on Mayra Ramírez.
Sporting immediately made their opponents pay, with Marcos picking up her hat-trick just before halftime.
HAT TRICK DE ANITA MARCOS . Jugada al más puro estilo Juan Palomo... Yo me lo guiso, yo me lo como... Recortó a Rocío y cruzó el balón ante la estirada de Misa— Alejandro Pecci (@Ale_Pecci97) April 3, 2022
Madrid apparently struggled a lot in their build-up, although they supposedly did get better after the subs.
Out of the tunnel, Ivana Andrés and Olga Carmona came on for Kenti Robles and Møller, respectively, presumably shifting Madrid into a back three/five. In the 62nd minute, Toril made his final roll of the dice, subbing on Asllani for Teresa Abelleira and Maite Oroz for Nahikari.
It was not enough to give Madrid the boost they needed on the scoresheet and Sporting held on for the massive upset.
Thus, the race for Champions League qualification currently looks like this:
Madrid have a game in hand but would now only be level on points with Atleti and Granadilla if they won that match.
The good news is that those two have much tougher schedules to end the season than the All Whites. Granadilla still have to face Athletic, Real Sociedad, and Levante, and Atlético have to play Athletic, Levante, and Barcelona. Meanwhile, Madrid will take on teams in the Sporting Huelva-range of the table.
However, this slip up serves as a warning sign to take nothing from granted in this league. Every encounter is a must win.