Osasuna vs. Real Madrid: Rating Los Merengues Players in Goalless Draw
It may only be January, but Real Madrid can already kiss their La Liga trophy goodbye.
After dropping two more points to the worst team in Spain, their title defense is now effectively over.
The "new era" they were hoping to start last season now looks more like a fluke than a changing of the guard.
It seems Jose Mourinho underestimated his opponent and was more focused on Madrid's mid-week Copa del Rey match than Osasuna.
Despite playing against one of the worst attacking units in the league, Mourinho chose to play three defensive-minded midfielders in front of his center-backs.
The result was a total lack of creativity in the midfield with no attacking midfielder consistently playing in front of the midpoint for the majority of the match.
Of course, with a 20-year-old and Raul Albiol playing in front of goal, adding more protection is wise. Having three extra bodies shielding them, however, may have been a bit excessive.
Let's see how each Real Madrid player did in their goalless draw with Osasuna.
Luckily for Casillas, Antonio Adan was forced to miss the Osasuna game due to suspension, so Jose Mourinho had little alternative but to start his No. 1.
The veteran shot-stopper had very little to do against the league's least effective attack, but he never made any mistakes either.
Jose Mourinho didn't think too highly of his clean sheet performance after saying the following in his post-match press conference:
"I liked Casillas' game against Celta, today he couldn't play the ball.
"It's too early to decide if Casillas will start against Valencia."
I suppose this is why people say it is the coach, not the players, who are dividing the Madrid locker room.
Casillas Grade: B
Collectively, this was a pretty poor showing from Madrid's back line.
Raphael Varane was the best player, but even he was less than spectacular.
His height was a big help against set pieces and he timed his challenges very well.
The youngster's job was made much, much easier in the first hour by having Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Luka Modric all shielding him.
Their reading and cutting off of plays made Varane look a bit better than he really was, since he was rarely even tested by Osasuna.
Varane Grade: B
It is sort of embarrassing for Raul Albiol that his 20-year-old partner looked the more poised and disciplined player, especially since it came against the lowest-scoring team in Spain.
Albiol was reckless. His timing on challenges was awful, and he let Kike Sola get by him a bit too many times.
His lack of nerves will not make it hard for the club to sell him in the summer transfer window, should another center-back be brought in.
Albiol Grade: C
Fans who say Fabio Coentrao is not the same player for Madrid that he was with Benfica, have another game to use in their argument.
The left-back was solid in the very early going, but lost his composure as the game wore on.
He got beat far too often by Kike Sola, and he made Cejudo look like Jesus Navas out wide.
The Portuguese also added very little going forward.
Coentrao Grade: C+
Alvaro Arbeloa was not fantastic at the back either, but at least he did not get beat often—although he was rarely targeted in the first place.
His passing was pretty poor, and his completion percentage was the worst of any player on the team.
Arbeloa Grade: C
It is intriguing: Taking the entire match into account, Madrid's most reliable defenders were their holding midfielders.
Osasuna really struggled to get into shooting range in the first half and that was because of some great timing, reading and positioning from the Same Khedira, Xabi Alonso and even Luka Modric.
In the second half, especially after the hour mark, Alonso and Khedira were left as the last man far too often after the full-backs failed to stop the counter-attack while the CBs were left out of position.
Alonso was superb defensively and sent some tremendous long balls out for his attackers, but his discipline waned late on and he nearly got sent off.
Alonso Grade: B-
Khedira was very sound at the back as well and took Kike Sola on many times, overwhelming him and also closing space down for the other Osasuna attackers.
The German did give too many passes away in midfield, but worked very hard to keep the clean sheet.
Khedira Grade: C+
Modric did well in transition, but really left Madrid wanting more going forward.
Los Merengues greatly lacked any creative spark in the front half and relied too much on long balls to the wingers with no attacking midfielder in place until Mesut Ozil came on.
Modric Grade: C-
Wide Attacking Midfield
Yet another start given to Angel di Maria, and yet another disappointing performance from the winger.
When Madrid held possession, the Argentinian too often wasted a shot or sent a poor ball into the box.
When they came off the counter, Di Maria would either selfishly waste the breakaway chance or lose the ball in midfield.
Apart from a few nice balls sent to Higuain, Di Maria was pretty useless on the day.
Di Maria Grade: D-
Jose Callejon's best moment came when he scored a goal from the offside position.
Apart from that, the forward struggled to make an impact attacking the defense, whether from the wide position or as the striker.
Callejon ran himself silly, but without much direction. He never had a shot on target and failed to complete a single cross.
The former academy star is a fan favorite, but just doesn't seem to understand his duties as a winger.
Callejon Grade: D+
Poor Gonzalo Higuain. He gave his all in this one and did whatever he had to do to get some time on the ball, but his service was awful all night.
The recently fit striker moved out wide, tracked back to the middle of the pitch at times and swapped places with both wingers to get more involved, but he never really had a chance to score.
The Argentinian didn't record a single shot on goal, but neither did any other Madrid player.
Higuain Grade: D+
What a squandered opportunity for Kaka.
He came on at the hour mark with his team desperate for a creative spark, but ended up with just five touches and two yellow cards.
Earning a red card in just 16 minutes will not win him any favor with the club or fans who think he needs to be sold to cut the team's losses.
Kaka Grade: F
Mesut Ozil played for just over 20 minutes, but few would have even noticed he was on the pitch if they hadn't seen the switch.
The German was anonymous during his stint and once again failed to impose himself in midfield, barely managing to complete half of his passes.
Ozil Grade: D-
Karim Benzema played the last 30 minutes, but did not get any more service from his midfield than Higuain did.
Despite having Kaka and Ozil feeding him, the Frenchman had to do most of the work if he wanted the ball with neither midfielder doing anything of note.
He did manage Madrid's lone shot on goal, but nothing came of it.
Benzema Grade: D+