Real Madrid succumbed to a shock 2-1 home defeat against Girona on Sunday afternoon, as Santiago Solari’s side lost precious points in the title race in what was their seventh La Liga loss of the season.
The hosts took the lead at the 25-minute mark, as Casemiro headed home from Toni Kroos’ precision cross. However, Eusebio’s side hit back midway through the second half, as Sergio Ramos gave away a penalty which was neatly slotted home by Cristhian Stuani. Things went from bad to worse for Los Blancos, as Portu’s diving header put his side in front.
Real threw everything at their opposition in the final fifteen minutes, but were unable to make the breakthrough. To compound their misery, Ramos received a second yellow card and was sent off in the 90th minute.
KEY TALKING POINT
With just 14 matches left to go this season, Los Blancos‘ hopes of recapturing the league title are looking incredibly slim. As both Barcelona and Atlético Madrid picked up wins on Saturday, the pressure was on Solari’s side to do what was expected of them – roll over an inferior opposition and move a point ahead of Atléti.
Boldly, the Real Madrid coach opted to make six changes heading into the match following their midweek Champions League exertions against Ajax, and left the likes of Gareth Bale and Vinícius Júnior on the bench. Suffice to say, this gamble didn’t pay off, and the cavalry were unable to make an impact when brought off the bench.
Bad rotation by Solari. Midfield empty of players. Solari bears the responsibility for the loss.
— Nidal Y. Othman (@NidalOthm) February 17, 2019
While the Bernabéu side would have been grateful with just securing Champions League qualification during the darkest days of Julen Lopetegui’s brief reign earlier in the season, their targets had shifted under Solari, with the upturn in form getting the supporters back on the team’s side. After this performance, overhauling Barcelona’s nine-point lead is going to be a huge task.
Player Ratings: Courtois (7); Odriozola (6), Varane (6), Ramos (5), Marcelo (6); Kroos (7), Casemiro (7), Ceballos (6); Vázquez (6), Benzema (6), Asensio (6).
Substitutes: Bale (6), Vinícius (6), Mariano (6)
Star Man – Casemiro
Casemiro’s first-half header was an absolute beauty – a goal that any top class striker would be proud of. Girona stopper Yassine Bounou had no chance of saving the effort, and was left sprawling helplessly as the Brazil international unleashed a powerful header into the bottom corner.
Other than his goal it was a fine performance from the 26-year-old. The tenacious midfielder was strong in the air, won his fair share of tackles and stroked the ball around in he middle of the park with his trademark composure. The player was certainly unlucky to be on the losing side, having put in a stellar performance.
Here’s how his performance went down on social media:
What a goal from casemiro ! Let’s go Madrid !
— Brayan (@Brvyan26) February 17, 2019
Casemiro is so important for Real Madrid . Great Header
— The Dark Knight (@ViwePotelwa) February 17, 2019
KEY TALKING POINT
The relegation battle in La Liga is looking to be a tasty one this season, with a host of established top tier sides in danger of dropping down a division. A win at the Bernabéu is a massive achievement for Girona in itself, but victory is all the sweeter on this occasion, as it saw the west coast side move four points clear of the relegation zone.
When Stuani slotted home his penalty, Girona could clearly smell blood, and went for the jugular while their opponents were stunned. Their defensive resilience during Real Madrid’s late barrage was stirring stuff, as their backline gritted their teeth and dug deep to deny the onrushing mass of white shirts. A massive three points, that’s for sure!
Player Ratings: Bounou (7); Garcia (6), Juanpe (6), Alcalá (7), Ramalho (7); Luiz (8), Portu (8), Granell (6), Pons (6), Porro (6) Stuani (8)
Substitutes: Lozano (7), Garcia (6), Fernández (6)
Star Man – Portu
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. It’s safe to say that Portu will never have a more glorious moment than his winning goal in the Bernabéu. The 26-year-old smashed an effort against the post a couple of minute beforehand, and made up for his miss by capitalising on Thibaut Courtois’ (latest) error and nodded in to send the away fans into raptures.
Operating on the left wing, Portu tormented Real Madrid right-back Álvaro Odriozola throughout the ninety minutes. Using pace, guile and tenacity, the former Valencia man turned his opponent inside-out, and showed the class that’s seen him score five goals and make two assists this season.
Here’s how Portu’s heroics went down on social media:
Nice one Portu, any goal against Madrid is very welcome in this household.
— A.D.R (@adedeji_dami) February 17, 2019
Inject it in my blood!
— The Godfather™ (@gideorlah) February 17, 2019
Real Madrid will look to bounce back from their humiliating defeat next Sunday, when they travel to mid-table side Levante. The pressure will be on Solari’s side to produce a response, after incurring the wrath of the Bernabéu faithful following their poor result.
Girona will be hopeful that their win can catalyse a strong run of form, and they’ll take on Real Sociedad at home next weekend. Having picked up their first league win since last November, spirits will certainly be high at the Estadi Montilivi next weekend.