La Liga's long gone but have Real & Ronaldo lost their fear factor too?

ShareClose Comments
The Portuguese endured another frustrating night in front of goal in a 2-2 draw with Levante, with Zinedine Zidane still struggling to fix los Blancos

All eyes were on Ronaldo again, but, for once, he wasn't happy about it. 

The Real Madrid superstar had just taken his seat on the bench after being withdrawn nine minutes from the end of Saturday's Liga clash with Levante and he wasn't happy that the camera was still fixed on him.

Los Blancos had just taken the lead in Valencia, thanks to Isco, but Ronaldo was the story; he never gets taken off. Not unless he wants to, and he clearly wasn't happy about being removed from a game in which he'd failed to score.

Had Real held on, Ronaldo's substitution would have been a side-story. By the full-time whistle, it had become the story. 

Giampaolo Pazzini's 89th-minute strike had earned Levante a draw, their second of the season against Real. A side with just three Liga wins to their name this term had held the Spanish, European and world champions home and away.

As Pazzini was mobbed by his team-mates, the camera immediately turned back to Ronaldo, shaking his head on the bench in disgust.

Zidane, meanwhile, stood stone-faced on the touchline, half-heartedly trying to rally his troops for one last assault. 

In truth, though, they never looked like netting a winner. Not this season. Whereas Real earned umpteen points in the closing stages of games last year, now they look bereft of ideas and confidence.

Their opponents know it too. Levante, like so many sides before them, are having a go at Madrid whenever they can. They smell blood. They know Madrid are a wounded animal.

According to Sergio Ramos, the players remain fully behind Zidane and last weekend's resounding win at Valencia certainly supported that claim.

It quelled talk of a crisis. Even Levante boss Juan Muniz laughed off claims that Madrid were in decline. "When this machine works well," he mused, "it goes to Mestalla and wins 4-1."

The problem is, though, Madrid are breaking down with increasingly regularity and there is now considerable doubt over whether Zidane can carry out the requisite repairs. 

Indeed, he was able to pick his first-choice line-up against Levante yet they again flattered to deceive. 

Toni Kroos Real Madrid Levante

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid Levante

Levante had been the better side before Sergio Ramos' opener - his 50th goal for Madrid made him the first defender to net in 14 consecutive seasons in La Liga - and they also finished the stronger. Indeed, Roger Marti had inexplicably headed wide from two yards out before Lavezzi's late leveller.

Unsurprisingly, Real enjoyed plenty of possession, with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric dominating midfield with their customary combination of grace and graft, but they were anaemic in attack and disorganised in defence.

After being the target of the fans' frustration of late, Karim Benzema proved his worth by playing his part in both goals, but Ronaldo had another one of his increasingly common off nights, hitting the target with just two of his seven strikes on goal.

At the back, meanwhile, Madrid were carved open with such ease that they would have lost the game had Levante seen more of the ball.

Ramos completely lost the run of Jose Luis Morales in the build-up to Emmanuel Boateng's equaliser just before the break, while Dani Carvajal was caught out in equally embarrassing fashion by Lavezzi.

Article continues below

Neymar & his Paris Saint-Germain colleagues must have been enthused by what they saw. Ronaldo, though, wasn't impressed at all and the Portuguese superstar's feelings will be the subject of much debate in the coming days. 

Real's state of mind will be of great concern to Zidane, though. We had already known that their hopes of retaining their Liga crown had long since disappeared. 

The very real fear now is that their fear factor has gone too. 

Next article:
Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview
Next article:
Puel shuts down Schmeichel transfer speculation
Next article:
Swirad praises Melaka's transformation under Elavarasan
Next article:
PKNP secures stay in the Super League
Next article:
Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Chelsea working on Martial deal
Close

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Show more Accept