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Real Madrid could be forgiven for losing at Paris Saint-Germain to open the Champions League group stage.
Tuesday’s tame performance against 10-man Club Brugge is harder to accept.
Headers from Sergio Ramos and Casemiro in the second half rescued a 2-2 draw and a point at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Real Madrid only spared itself marginal embarrassment.
For much of the evening, Zinedine Zidane’s aged, stagnated squad failed to inspire much confidence, and was picked apart too easily by the visitors in the first half as they built a two-goal advantage.
Ramos gave Real Madrid hope in the 55th minute with a goal that was barely onside, and Casemiro’s equalizer arrived five minutes before stoppage time, right after Club Brugge captain Ruud Vormer was sent off with a second yellow card (via Bleacher Report):
Emmanuel Bonaventure scored both goals for Club Brugge, and both were fairly fortunate in the end product. The first came when he bungled Percy Tau’s cross past Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the ninth minute:
And Bonaventure scored the second 30 minutes later, pickpocketing Luka Modric and keeping his balance just long enough to fire past Courtois again:
Both times, Real Madrid was caught napping, unawares, however you want to describe it. Simply not good enough for a club with designs on winning the Champions League every season.
That’s what Zidane and Real Madrid nearly did from 2014 to 2018, capturing European glory four out of five campaigns. But a summer splurge on the likes of Eden Hazard and some promising youngsters has yet to yield dividends.
It must be said that for all their troubles, Real Madrid still lead La Liga after seven matchweeks. Except the form they’ve demonstrated seems unsustainable and more in line with their Champions League performance thus far, which has produced one point from two matches.
With four fixtures remaining in the group stage, including two vs. Galatasaray and a home date with PSG, there’s plenty of time to make up the difference. The fact that Real Madrid already has to is what’s concerning.
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