After a rare eight-day break, Real Madrid returned to action on Sunday night at home to Rayo Vallecano and were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw. It was the ultimate Clásico hangover and, after such a tense night of LaLiga action, there is a lot to discuss, so we do so in the form of three answers and three questions.
1. Would RDT continue ‘the curse of the ex’?
Coming into this game, Real Madrid had conceded eight goals this LaLiga campaign and only three of the eight had been scored by players with no Madridista past. Sergio Arribas, Borja Mayoral and Álvaro Morata twice had all scored against their former club, in addition to a David Alaba own goal. So, given that ‘the curse of the ex’ has very much been in play for Real Madrid this season, it was certainly a scary sight to see Raúl de Tomás start up front for the opposition. Even if the centre-forward hasn’t been himself for over a year now, it would have been typical for him to score at the Bernabéu. However, Raúl de Tomás was almost as much of a spectator as anyone in the stands. Rayo Vallecano defended well for the most part, but couldn’t get the ball to the striker during his 75 minutes on the pitch.
2. Could Vinícius dominate his duel with Rațiu?
Imagine being Rayo Vallecano right-back Andrei Rațiu. You make your debut in LaLiga and you do so at the Bernabéu and against Vinícius, the best winger in the world. With Iván Balliu suffering a physical issue, Rațiu had to make this most difficult of first starts, like facing the final boss in level one of a video game. So, how would that duel go? Would Vinícius be able to exploit this obvious mismatch? Well, the Brazilian certainly created a lot of danger through that match-up, completing 10 of his 15 dribbles on the night. But, you felt there were even more opportunities to be had than that, especially after Rațiu collected a yellow card. This was another one of those Vinícius performances where he seemed to check out of the game in the final stages.
3. Would Arda Güler make his debut off the bench?
For the first time since his summer transfer to Real Madrid, Arda Güler was fit enough to make the matchday squad and the bench. We knew he wouldn’t start, as Ancelotti has said he’ll be eased in little by little, but would we even catch a glimpse of him off the bench? Well, no. Güler was not one of the just three substitutes introduced by Ancelotti. And, I don’t think any Madridista will be too annoyed about that, as this was not the game for introducing the 18-year-old for a debut. If Real Madrid had been 3-0 or 4-0 up, then maybe, but this just wasn’t that kind of game.
1. What’s with all the Clásico hangovers?
Here’s a stat. Of the last seven Clásicos that Real Madrid have won, they’ve only then won the following fixture twice. In other words, they’ve had five Clásico hangovers from their past seven victories over Barcelona, including this one here against Rayo Vallecano. What’s with that? That simply cannot happen. It’s all well and good taking the three points away from Catalonia last weekend, but not if you then drop two at home to mid-table opposition the following Sunday.
2. Can we give Fran García some credit?
This was a big night for Fran García. Not only was he facing his former club, but this was also a rare start for the Spaniard, considering how little he has played since Mendy returned from injury. And, he largely did well, on a night when he must surely have felt a lot of pressure. He did lose the ball a few times, but also won it back via three interceptions and by winning four of his six duels. When he was substituted off in the 72nd minute, it was more tactical than a judgement on his performance, with Camavinga moving to left-back. Overall, this was an encouraging showing from the youngster.
3. Will Camavinga be the defensive pivot for the entirety of Tchouaméni’s absence?
This was Real Madrid’s first of many matches without Aurélien Tchouaméni, who is expected to be out for a month and a half. It was Camavinga who played in his fellow Frenchman’s place in this one, and that makes sense since the 20-year-old has the most similar profile. Plus, Camavinga did play as a single pivot in this game, despite some expecting a double pivot. And, he did really well. But, will this be the case for the entirety of Tchouaméni’s absence? Probably not, for a few reasons. It’s a long stretch for Camavinga to play there continuously without any rest, plus Ancelotti will probably want to use the Frenchman’s skillset in other areas of the pitch too, as was the case when he was moved to left-back. Replacing Tchouaméni might be done by committee.