Real Madrid’s travails continued on Saturday as they were condemned to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Levante at Santiago Bernabeu.
Julen Lopetegui needed a strong start to silence talks of an impending axe from the helm. But, his woes worsened just seven minutes into the game as Raphael Varane misjudged a long ball and failed to track Jose Luis Morales, who duly obliged before rounding off Thibaut Courtois to break the deadlock.
Things went from bad to worse six minutes later with Varane the culprit again, as he was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the Real Madrid box by VAR after Levante had initially been awarded a free-kick. Roger Marti stepped up to take the penalty, made no error in beating Courtois from the spot.
Real Madrid then went on to dominate the proceedings but would find themselves cursing their luck, as the woodwork came to Levante’s rescue a number of times. The visitors also had Oier Olazabal to thank, with the goalkeeper making a string of crucial saves, while two goals were also chalked off as offside.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) October 20, 2018
Real Madrid finally got a goal back in the 72nd minute as Marcelo unleashed a fabulous long-range strike not long after the hosts had broken their club record of longest goal drought. But, that was it for Los Blancos plunged to a 2-1 loss – their fifth successive game without a win. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Julen Lopetegui’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 5/10
Cannot really be blamed for either goal, although one can argue if Courtois could have been more certain when coming off his line to put pressure on Morales. Levante did not threaten much after going two up, but Courtois never quite looked comfortable, particularly with the ball at his feet.
Alvaro Odriozola: 6/10
One of the better performers in a forgettable first half for Real Madrid, Odriozola carried the biggest threat in the final third when Levante got men behind the ball. Struggled at time on the defensive front, but can still consider himself unlucky to be taken off at half-time.
Raphael Varane: 2/10
Raphael Varane will being having nightmares about that first half 👻 pic.twitter.com/KvwuACtCiX
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 20, 2018
Real Madrid’s standout player so far this season had an absolute stinker. And so, it is hardly surprising that Julen Lopetegui & co. ended up on the wrong side of the result on Saturday. The first is unforgivable as he failed to judge the trajectory of the ball while letting Jose Luis Morales drift to net the opening goal.
Was culpable for the second goal as well, as he handled the ball inside his box, although it can be argued that Varane knew very little about it. Barely tested after the first 15 minutes, but the two errors were enough to condemn Real Madrid to their third defeat in a row.
Sergio Ramos: 4/10
A strange outing for Ramos, who was making his 400th appearance in La Liga on Saturday. Struggled to no end against a confident Morales, whose partnership with Marti had the Real Madrid captain back pedalling. Provided a major threat in the final third, and was unlucky to not have a goal against his name when his first half header clattered against the bar.
A clear standout in a poor Real Madrid side, Marcelo showed exactly what Lopetegui had been missing on the left flank for a month. Unsurprisingly, the Brazilian was susceptible at the back, but Levante still did not enjoy much joy from his side.
In the final third though, Marcelo showed his real class, often appearing as the most prominent outlet for the struggling hosts. He finally ended Real Madrid’s catastrophic goal drought by netting a goal that was right out the top drawer. But, it all was in vain as Los Blancos failed to find the equaliser.
Luka Modric: 5/10
Another poor performance from Modric, who will soon become a liability if he continues this way. The Croat misplaced even the simplest of passes at times, while his creative touch was nowhere to be seen on the odd occasion. Real Madrid desperately need him to return to his best, as they keep on losing battles in the midfield.
Another player who did not cover himself in glory on Saturday, Casemiro failed to make an impact on his 100th La Liga outing. The Brazilian went helter skelter when Levante were on the ascendancy, constantly letting the visitors create opportunities on the counter through the middle. Unlucky to not get a goal though, as his header rattled the crossbar.
Back after nearly a month following his recovery from appendicitis, Isco was visibly rusty although he did manage to keep things simple for the most part. Even created a big chance for Modric, but that was as good as it got as the Spaniard became increasingly off pace as the game dragged on.
Lucas Vazquez: 4/10
Given a rare opportunity to impress, Vazquez squandered his chance massively. The Spaniard had as many as three chances to get a goal back for Real Madrid, but he fluffed his lines dreadfully. Crossing was very awry as well, and the player was clueless when he slotted in at right-back following Odriozola’s substitution.
Mariano Diaz: 6/10
Mariano finally got his first La Liga start on Saturday, but it turned out to be a frustrating afternoon for the summer signing. One of several players who were thwarted by the woodwork and the Levante goalkeeper, Mariano thought he had finally found his goal before being rightly denied by the assistant for offside. Tried to overcomplicate things at times, which he must learn to curb.
Marco Asensio: 4/10
Asensio’s poor run sees no end of halting, and it is evidently affecting his confidence. Seemed to have scored in the first half before being pulled back for offside by VAR. The goal could have helped, but the offside call only ended up putting him in his shell. A lot more is expected out of a player who is ideally the replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo from within the squad.
Gareth Bale: 6/10
Brought on half-time to provide the killer instinct, Bale did make a distinctive impact, even coming close with a free-kick. But, he still seems to be a little short on peak fitness, which Lopetegui will hope he can improve before next week’s El Clasico.
Karim Benzema: 7/10
He might not have been able to end his goal drought, but Benzema was the reason why Real Madrid had a glimmer of hope in the first place. Slotting in on the left side, the Frenchman was a thorn on Levante’s side with his directness. Another player who had the woodwork coming between him and goal.
Dani Ceballos: 6/10
On ahead of Kroos, Ceballos kept things ticking in the final third, with his link-up play being quite delightful. A solid cameo.