La Liga Round 24 – Real Madrid vs. Villarreal: Post Match Review

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26: Manuel Trigueros (L) of Villarreal competes for the ball with Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid during the La Liga match between Villarreal CF and Real Madrid at Estadio de la Ceramica on February 26, 2017 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by Fotopress/Getty Images)
VILLARREAL, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26: Manuel Trigueros (L) of Villarreal competes for the ball with Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid during the La Liga match between Villarreal CF and Real Madrid at Estadio de la Ceramica on February 26, 2017 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by Fotopress/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid responded from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 over Villarreal at the Estadio de la Cerámica Sunday to give Real a big win. Los Blancos now hold a 1-point lead and a game in hand over second place Barcelona. Tyler Mascarenhas tells you about the stunning comeback in Vila-real.

(Photo by Jose Breton/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jose Breton/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /

After seeing Barcelona defeat Atletico Madrid earlier in the morning, Real Madrid needed all 3 points to be truly considered winners after weekend’s end. Manager Zinedine Zidane fielded a lineup that has not been used since the Champions League final last year, and to most, it seems like the most balanced lineup Real Madrid could field. Birthday boy Pepe featured in the starting 11 while Gareth Bale made his much anticipated return to the ‘BBC’ frontline. The full lineup can be seen below.

First Half

Zinedine Zidane’s men came out of the tunnel quickly, and after having Villarreal’s defense pushed back minutes in, Cristiano Ronaldo almost made it 1-0 for the visitors after seeing his strike saved by Asenjo. Villarreal responded well however, as dangerous wide-man Castillejo danced his way past a few Real Madrid defenders and produced a shot that had a better intention than execution. The first genuine stop came in the 12th minute, as Mario Gaspar saw his wicked effort saved by Keylor Navas who needed all of his 6’1 frame.

Villarreal continued to press and create chances, and the Yellow Submarine were unlucky to see themselves not take the lead. Real Madrid’s defense were getting outwitted by the quick play of the Villarreal wingers, but time after time Casemiro would come to the rescue. Finally picking up steam that seemed to fade after the first quarter hour, Asenjo was called to make a great save after an in-swinging cross hit off Benzema’s arm and onto target. On the play however, Asenjo seemed to have hurt his achilles and was subsequently taken off.

(Photo credit should read BIEL ALINO/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read BIEL ALINO/AFP/Getty Images) /

Andres Fernandez was the substitute for the injured shot-stopper, and the backup keeper had only one real test before the half came to an end, denying a weak Benzema effort. The Frenchman has been out of sorts lately, and was the least productive out of the BBC in the first half.

As Real Madrid’s official twitter account displays, the score was still 0-0 at halftime.

2nd Half

Villarreal had to be disappointed to not grab a goal within the opening frame, though the jeers soon turned to cheers as midfielder Trigueros opened the score with a strike inside the box in the 50th minute. Marcelo was the victim of bad positional defending here, as his miss-positioning allowed Castillejo to win the aerial duel and send the ball to Trigueros. Looking jaded, Real Madrid gifted Villarreal another goal just six minutes later after Bakambu found the back of the net with a tidy finish. Captain Sergio Ramos was to blame here, as he kept the Villarreal striker onside while also losing out on the pace battle. Villarreal’s 2-0 lead was definitely deserved as they looked to be the more focused side.

Next: Zidane Needs to Be More Reckless

Needing a spark, Zidane looked to Isco, and boy, the little Spaniard made an immediate impact. Just three minutes after coming onto the pitch, Cristiano smashed a volley off the inside of the post but the ball didn’t seem to want to go in. Real Madrid looked dangerous, and would soon find their chance.

Having been on the field for less than 10 minutes, Isco’s touch and creativity created the first goal for Real Madrid. The Spaniard’s patience allowed him to find Carvajal on the right side, and in turn, the right-back sent in a beautiful ball that found Bale’s head and the comeback was finally on. It was the Welshman’s 7th goal of the La Liga campaign, and having missed 3 months of action, has already surpassed Benzema for third on the team. Controlling the game, Real Madrid were given a penalty that was controversial to say the least. Bruno’s hand was in an unnatural position and after a deflection, the ball ricocheted off the Villarreal’s captain’s hand.

Ronaldo made no mistake in rocketing a strike that no keeper could stop. Just like that, it was 2 goals a piece and Real Madrid had roughly 15 minutes to complete the comeback victory. Alvaro Morata replaced Benzema in the 77th minute and six minutes after his arrival, the 24-year old saw his header beat Andres Fernandez. Isco was again the cause, as his dispossession in the midfield allowed Real Madrid to outlet and score the game winner. Bale picked up a late knock, so he was replaced by Vazquez in the final moments as a precaution.

The final whistled blew after 4 minutes of added time and Real Madrid came away with a hard earned victory.

The inclusions of both Isco and Morata after the 2-0 were huge as they provided much needed attacking firepower. Both Spanish players performed so well in their chance, and both deserve to start sooner or later.