A game as a reflection of the royal world
Real Madrid can win a lot this week, but they can also lose a lot at the same time. Within a few days, the royals will have two Barcelona archrivals as guests. The latest 2-1 win at Levante is a reflection of the current royal world.
With the exception of the latest 2-1 defeat by FC Girona, Madrid has been a perfect world since mid-January, at least in terms of results. The lucky 2-1 win at UD Levante last Sunday, however, revealed what the Blancos’ inner life really is like.
In front of the two pioneering Clasicos against Barcelona, in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday and in La Liga on Saturday (8.45 p.m.), the Blancos, without their suspended captain Sergio Ramos, revealed blatant defensive weaknesses. The fact that Real went into the break with a lead was simply huge Dusel.
In the offensive, it was Vinicius Junior, at least with his speed, who provided a few highlights before the break. After the final whistle, the young Brazilian told of his “great desire for the Clasico”. “We have to do it like at Camp Nou,” the 18-year-old said, referring to the 1-1 win in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg three weeks ago: “We could have won this game. Now we need the fans to help us”.
Meanwhile, Vinicius Junior is not afraid of Lionel Messi, who scored three goals and a goal on his own at the weekend to win 4-2 in Seville. “He’s an incredible player who does things no one else does. But we’re not afraid of Messi, because we have the best players in the world.” So royally confident, so good.
Before the semi-final return leg against Barcelona, Real Madrid were able to regain some self-confidence in Levante on Sunday evening. But it took two penalty kicks.
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Karim Benzema, who for some time now has been able to achieve almost everything he has set out to do, was responsible for the highly undeserved lead at Levante. From the penalty spot, the Frenchman turned ice-cold. Benzema also radiated the newly won self-confidence in his latest interview with “France Football”. He called himself the “leader of the attack”. Previously, the striker had had to act mainly as an adjutant for Cristiano Ronaldo. “I’ve always looked for him with the goal of scoring more goals,” confesses the 31-year-old.
He has always seen himself in the second row. “Now it’s up to me to show that I want to score,” says Benzema, who added: “I just feel like I’m flying.” The strong performances can also be seen in connection with his private situation, with which he is currently completely happy. His once difficult relationship with the fans hardly caused him any stomach pains. “I feel that people have understood my game and that I can help the club.”
Kroos greetinglessly past Solari
So far, so positive. Meanwhile, World Champion Toni Kroos was not really enthusiastic when coach Santiago Solari took him off the pitch nine minutes after the highly deserved equaliser. A little disbelieving, he looked to the side line, with an ironic grin, the midfield strategist trotted towards the bench. After a frustrated break with Fede Valverde, Kroos didn’t pay much attention to his coach. He walked greetinglessly past Solari, who didn’t even notice him at all.
It was thanks to Gareth Bale that Real won in the end and “only” nine points behind Barça before the Liga-Clasico on Saturday. The Welshman, who had stopped warming up sulking in the meantime, once again came from the bench, and four minutes after his substitution he confidently converted a highly controversial penalty to the 2-1 final (78th). Lucas Vazquez was the first to congratulate him, but Bale knocked his hand away. On the way back to his own half, he slapped a few colleagues dutifully, but without big words or gestures.
The club-oriented “Marca” wants to know several reasons for the behavior of the wingtip. In addition to the unsatisfactory sporting situation, two other players are currently a thorn in his side’s side: Keeper Thibaut Courtois and left-back Marcelo. The Belgian, for example, had publicly stated that Bale was not taking part in the evening team events “because he was already asleep at that time”. Marcelo had repeatedly made fun of his still poor Spanish. The mood of the Welsh man, who will probably sit on the bench again at the start against Barcelona, is in the cellar.