Real Madrid’s issues resurface in back-to-back Clasico defeats. PLUS: Are Liverpool in trouble?

Lose two Clasicos at home in the space of four days and yeah, the sky will be falling at Real Madrid. Especially when the defeats come against a Barcelona side that, despite being on course for a Treble, simply don’t look on a par with those of yesteryear. They’re on pace to win La Liga with 87 points, which would be the lowest total in 11 seasons and no, it’s not because the rest of Spanish football has suddenly improved nfl nike jerseys china

Truth be told I didn’t think Real Madrid, with all their woes, were quite that terrible on Saturday night. They carved out chances, more through individual efforts than collective design, and Barca’s goal, while well-taken by Ivan Rakitic, was the result of an individual error as Sergio Ramos got caught out of position.

Yet Barcelona did defend well, with Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique at the back and Arthur and Sergio Busquets in midfield, and didn’t need to offer that much more. Lionel Messi was quieter on the ball (by his lofty standards) and yet his presence and movement was a constant thorn in Real Madrid’s side.2

Of note was Ramos’ elbow — a classic example of “accidentally-on-purpose” — that went unpunished by VAR, which surprised some. For VAR to come into play in this situation, one of two things has to happen: either referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco admits he didn’t see the incident at all or the VAR deem it clearly and obviously worthy of a straight red card and invite the match official to have another look. Neither, from what we can tell, was the case nike nfl jerseys wholesale

After four games on the bench, Santiago Solari reintroduced Gareth Bale into the starting lineup at the expense of Lucas Vazquez, who may be unspectacular but works both ends of the pitch. The grumpy Welshman offered very little and was booed resoundingly when he came off at the hour mark.

Whether it was desperation or thinking outside the box, Solari turned to Isco and Marco Asensio to ignite the comeback in the second half. These are two guys who, a year ago, looked like the present and the future of the club. Yet Isco hasn’t started a Liga match since the last Clasico (the 5-1 debacle that cost Julen Lopetegui his job) and the latter started one league game since mid-December. It showed. Coupled with a poor night from Toni Kroos and Casemiro in midfield and Vinicius, despite his endeavours, showing how green he still is, there was little left to cheer in the final third.

It’s pretty evident that Real Madrid’s issues go back — way back — and it’s not simply a case of Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo leaving and Lopetegui getting appointed at the worst possible time. Nor can you dump all of this on Solari either.