Zinedine Zidane rang the changes once again as his Real Madrid side came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw away at city rivals Leganes on Monday night.
The away side were looking to end the La Liga season on a high following a largely disappointing campaign, but this game provided nothing more than a reminder of the issues facing the three-time Champions League winners.
An uninspired first half performance from Madrid saw them duly punished, as Jonathan Silva passed the ball into the far corner of the Real net on the stroke of half time. On the five previous occasions this season that Madrid have gone into the break behind, they had salvaged just one point.
This illustrated the difficult task Madrid had ahead of them, but six minutes into the second half, Los Blancos looked as though they had turned things around as Karim Benzema followed up his initial shot to stroke home an equaliser for Zidane’s men.
However, in a side which included some new faces, it was the Madrid of old who were left to drive them on for the remainder of the game. Despite the efforts of Benzema, Luka Modric and Marcelo, the away side rarely threatened the Leganes goal, as the two sides eventually played out a stalemate.
Here’s 90min’s breakdown of the game.
Starting XI: Cuellar (7); Nyom (7), Bustinza (7), Umeruo (6), Siovas (5), Silva (7); Vesga Arruti (7), Perez (6), Eraso Goni (6); Carrillo (6), Braithwaite (7)
Substitutes: En-Nasyri (6), El Zhar (6), Recio (N/A)
Key Talking Point
Real Madrid flattered to deceive against Leganes on Monday evening, as Zidane fielded an unfamiliar starting eleven. In a side without Sergio Ramos, Thibaut Courtois, Vinicius Junior and Gareth Bale, Los Blancos delivered a far from impressive performance.
Their drab first half display was punished by Jonathan Silva on half time as the home side took a 1-0 lead into the break. Despite grabbing an equaliser straight after the break, Madrid failed to find the next gear as they appeared to lack any zip to their play.
With rumours circulating that the French manager will be given significant funding to improve his squad in the summer, his side’s performance on Monday night will not have done anything to dissuade him from doing so.
Despite game time being given to a few of their newer faces, Madrid found themselves relying on the contributions of veterans Modric and Benzema. Aged 33 and 31 respectively, Zidane will know these players cannot be counted upon for too much longer and may have been convinced that significant improvements are needed to his squad.
Starting XI: Navas (6); Carvajal (5), Varane (6), Nacho (6), Marcelo (5); Valverde (7), Casemiro (6), Modric (8*); Isco (6), Benzema (7), Asensio (5)
Substitues: Vasquez (6), Bale (N/A)
Star Man – Luka Modric
The Ballon d’Or winner showed his class on Monday night as he took control of the game for Real Madrid. After a lacklustre first half from the away side, Modric grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and drove his side on.
The effect of the Croatian’s play in the second half was felt immediately as his neat turn gave him the space to play the ball into the path of Benzema who, at the second attempt, forced the ball past Cuellar in the Leganes goal.
From then on, everything Los Blancos created went through the former Tottenham midfielder as he looked to penetrate a compact home defence. However, Modric may bemoan the lack of movement in front of him as Isco and Marco Asensio turned in disappointing performances, which prevented Madrid from finding the elusive winning goal.
Leganes face Villareal at the weekend before coming up against Athletic Bilbao a few days later in a game which could propel them towards the European places. While their chances look slim, the European hopefuls could be hitting form at the perfect point in the season.
Real Madrid will continue their bid to end the season on a high, but tricky games against Bilbao and Getafe stand in their way. The remaining six games will be this squad’s final opportunity to impress manager Zidane before this summer’s transfer window.