Girona’s Christian Stuani and Portu scored in the second half to hand Real Madrid a shock 2-1 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday afternoon.
Los Blancos, coming into the match on the back of five consecutive wins in La Liga, were the outright favorites against a side that hadn’t won a league match since November. It was supposed to be a walk in the park for Santiago Solari’s in-form Real Madrid team, and not a day to forget.
An almost packed Santiago Bernabeu anticipated an afternoon goal fest, and reasonably so. Girona weren’t supposed to be able to keep the likes of Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale, and Vinicius Jr out. Yet, they did, and walked away with three invaluable points, landing a sucker punch to Los Blancos’ title ambitions.
Real Madrid started the game on the front foot and found themselves justifiably ahead just before the half-hour mark. Casemiro outjumped his marker to meet with Toni Kroos’ inch-perfect delivery, leaving Girona stopper, Bono, helpless. The hosts kept up the tempo for the remainder of the half and came close to doubling their advantage on a couple of occasions.
A bad day for Real Madrid and a bad day for Sergio Ramos. They were beaten by Girona in La Liga.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 17, 2019
The second half saw an astonishing change of fortunes. Despite being outplayed in the first half, Girona came at Real Madrid full of confidence, and the Whites, unexpectedly, had no answer. Sergio Ramos’ lackluster decision-making allowed Christian Stuani to restore parity from the spot, sending the away fans into a frenzy. Girona landed the killer blow 10 minutes later, as Portu bundled home from close range.
— Sun Sport (@SunSport) February 18, 2019
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts when Real Madrid skipper, Sergio Ramos, picked up his second yellow in the 90th minute and got himself sent off.
Here are the three biggest reasons behind Real Madrid’s shock loss to the Catalan outfit:
Lack of Sharpness up Top
Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, Real Madrid needed to sign a potent goal scorer, someone capable of making the most of opportunities. The capital side, however, chose to stick with Karim Benzema and didn’t bother looking for suitable alternatives.
On Sunday, their vulnerability was once again highlighted, as Real Madrid failed to convert from close range, time and again, in the first half.
Santiago Solari’s Substitutions
Real Madrid boss, Santiago Solari, failed to justify his reputation and made some unflattering changes during Sunday’s defeat. Lucas Vazquez, who was performing convincingly was taken off for Vinicius Jr. That change, on paper, was positive. But it wasn’t the most helpful considering Vazquez’s defensive contribution.
He then substituted Marco Asensio for Gareth Bale, who, once again, was abysmal on the night. Finally, he brought in Mariano, turning the 4-3-3 formation it into a 4-2-4, with little to no creativity in the middle of the park.
Marcelo’s Defensive Lapses
Real Madrid vice-captain, Marcelo, is one of the finest and most committed players in Solari’s squad. But the Brazilian just hasn’t been at his best over the last few weeks. On Sunday, Marcelo allowed the opposition to run circles around him and looked fairly disinterested when not in possession.
The page compared every result with and without Marcelo this season to prove just how bad he's been… 😳
The left-back personally responded to the attack and made a startling admission! 👀https://t.co/C4bg4E2mM1
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) February 18, 2019
As per reports, Ronaldo’s departure has hurt Marcelo deeply and the left-back is now considering to join him at Juventus. It’s difficult to say how credible these reports are, but Marcelo must make up his mind and soon.