Real Madrid dropped again in the Champions League match, but at least this time they were playing well against Borussia Moenchengladbach when it happened. Late goals by Karim Benzema and Casemiro netted a draw 2-2 and there are many points to discuss from sharing the spoils that do not make anyone truly happy.
1. Will this trip be as difficult as the last one to Mönchengladbach?
Real Madrid and Monchengladbach have a history, a special history for the Spanish team. One of Los Blancos’ greatest comebacks ever came against the German side in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup when Real Madrid lost 5-1 away at the old Rennes stadium and then won 4-0 at the Bernabéu, thanks to two Jorge Valdano headers and two Santillana strikes. Late, the second came in the 89th minute. This led to their progress in scoring away goals in the tournament they ultimately won, but these teams have not played since. So how will it go this time? Well, there was another comeback. It may not have meant what happened in the 1980s, but the late goals from Benzema and Casemiro made a big point for Real Madrid and certainly gave terrible memories to Borussia fans who still remember the UEFA Cup transformation.
2. Does he play Hazard at all?
Eden Hazard was part of Real Madrid’s traveling squad for this match, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will play. It was unlikely to start and this has proven to be the case. Then, with the way the match was going, there was a chance that Zinedine Zidane wouldn’t use it at all because this wasn’t the kind of cool and laid-back match where you’d like to facilitate the player’s return to things. But the Frenchman threw Hazard at the end and looked really good, even close to scoring just minutes after he came. Perhaps the best news is that he is not looking afraid, as that was true of the way Hazard returned from the ankle injuries he suffered last season. Remember this was a different type of injury that left him marginalized this time and seemed to feel confident in his body. This is very good news.
3. How will Lucas Vásquez perform at right-back?
With Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Urduzola and Nacho injured, it was up to Lucas Vásquez to fill in the right-back again in this match, just as he did in El Clásico when he came after Nacho was injured. In El Clasico, he was really good. Can he repeat this performance? Somewhat. The Spaniard was very good in the first half and did a lot in attack, while still doing his defensive duties well. He could’ve done better against Marcus Thuram on every goal, that’s right. However, there were much bigger defensive problems with each of those goals than Lucas did. And the thing that won’t be mentioned is that Lucas did a decent job against Thuram most of the night. Given that he was the fourth choice at right back, that wasn’t a bad effort.
1. How complex are Real Madrid’s chances of qualifying?
“If we play this way, then I am sure it will work out for us and we will finish this group.” This is what Zinedine Zidane said in his post-match press conference, and he was correct to some extent. Real Madrid may come out of this group. Not because they were good, because apparently they didn’t because they only took one point out of the first six available. But I’ve been saying all the time that this is the low-level death group and this might actually play in Real Madrid because all the teams are so strong that they will get points from each other. We have already seen that, through the fact that Real Madrid score two poor results and that they are last by one point while at the same time they are three points ahead of first-placed Shakhtar Donetsk and only one point behind two points. Inter and Borussia Monchengladbach. Still in Los Blancos hands.
2. How does Zidane fit in with Fedi Valverde in the squad?
He may have been poor at the end of the 2019/20 season, after coming back from the coronavirus lockdown, but Fede Valverde has started the new season perfectly. So did Luka Modric, so how does Zidane fit both in the squad? Last season, the coach could basically play Casemiro, Toni Kroos and one of the Croatian or Uruguayan side, but now maybe he has to play all four. Four midfielders rarely played, as he tended to play for three or five, but perhaps the time has come to try the midfield trio of Valverde, Casemiro and Kroos, with Modric ahead in what would eventually become Ødegaard’s role.
3. When will Real Madrid play in front of the fans again?
Even though this was an away match and the fans would, in theory, be unfavorable to Real Madrid, I’m sure most of them were sad to learn that 10804 tickets sold for this match would not be used in the end. The high number of cases in Mönchengladbach meant that fans were unable to attend this match in Borussia Park and that is a great shame. The Champions League is special and fans braving the cold winter nights in the middle of the week make it so. Let’s hope that comes back soon, even if it’s Real Madrid’s matches.