3. A 2-1 away win against Athletic Bilbao during an injury crisis
Injury crises’ aren’t any new for Real Madrid, and the team is used to such times when many of their players are on the sidelines. Such periods of crisis often hurt the team’s rhythm and players’ continuity, which are very important for a club that aims to win the league. The team must show immense quality and mental strengths to emerge victorious through those tough times.
A similar period was encountered by Real Madrid during their visit to Athletic Bilbao this season, in December 2021. Carlo Ancelotti had just 14 first-team players available for the game, as Ceballos and Carvajal were out with injuries, Casemiro was suspended, while Alaba, Asensio, Bale, Isco, Lunin, Marcelo, Modric and Rordygo had tested positive for COVID-19 due to a breakout in the club. Seven Castilla players had to be called up to fill in the empty spots.
Every game is a must-win game for Real Madrid considering the high standards at the club, and there wasn’t any room for excuses. Even Real Madrid looked like a team that aimed for nothing else but the three points and won the game 2-1 while all the odds were against them.
Karim Benzema was the match-winner again with two goals, which included an unbelievable right-footed curler from the edge of the box on the left. Bilbao did manage to reduce the advantage to one, but Real Madrid showed a lot of determination and focus to end the year with a win.
This win, at a tough time, extended Real Madrid’s lead at the top to 8 points and ensured that the club had some breathing space at the top. And this win made it clear that Real Madrid is a team on a mission to win the league, and nothing can stop them from doing so.