Madrid still coughing and spluttering


Second-string XI get Madrid through to the quarter-finals on aggregate, but only managed a 2-2 draw against a good Numancia side.

Real Madrid settled the Round of 16 tie against Numancia in a game that was made more complicated for them by the comfortable three-goal advantage from the first leg and the strange atmosphere surrounding the team at the moment. The players who have been getting fewer minutes stepped in for this one, and the result was as bland as might have been expected. The ‘B Unit’ drew 2-2, which serves to prolong the bout of ‘flu the team are suffering, and does nothing to improve the image, which has been deteriorating for some time.

Half past nine at night on the La Castellana, the thermometer going down fast, a half-full stadium, and that’s being generous… It was not the most appetising menu, especially if you remember that Madrid had already won by three goals to nothing in Soria last week. The team’s situation in the league, however, and the Kepa Arrizabalaga soap opera, have raised something of a storm. So much so, that the game against Numancia was seen as a kind of test for which there would be no mark, but which they could not afford to fail.

It was a strange job for Ceballos, Lucas Vázquez, Theo, Vallejo, Marcos Llorente and company. These are players who have little to do with the disaster in the league. Those guys, the CRs, the Modrics, Varanes, Marcelos and Krooses, they are the ones who will have a real exam on Saturday, against Villarreal. Before that, however, there was the little hurdle of Numancia to get over. The youngsters went at it and gave it their all, which was a lot, but as far as football goes, there was very little to be seen. They are infected by the same virus that has enfeebled the regular starters.

Ceballos and Lucas Vázquez tried to rouse the brave ones who had bothered to show up at the Bernabéu, but what they produced was just the odd flash, and a lead on ten minutes. And after all their efforts, Numancia still managed to go in at half time with a one-all scoreline. The aggregate result was not in any danger, but the Blancos‘ image was. Perhaps it was for that reason that Madrid upped the intensity after the break, when Lucas Vázquez put them ahead again. Everything seemed to be in its place, but then Numancia stepped up and showed Madrid up again when Guillermo netted their second, the equaliser.

The draw in itself is not important, as Madrid go through 5-2 on aggregate. The team’s image, however, has not improved one bit. And that continues to be a problem, even though the team are alive and kicking in all three competitions.