Real Madrid: Best and Worst from Saturday's 2-2 Draw with Osasuna
Gareth Bale proved to be a quality candidate after his 55-minute shift finished in lackluster fashion. The Welshman created zero chances as each of his six crosses failed to find its mark. Even his only attempt on goal came from well outside the 18-yard box.
But all that pales in comparison to an undisciplined afternoon from Sergio Ramos.
Read on to find out why.
Note: Unless otherwise mentioned, credit all statistics to Squawka. All data collected is licensed from Opta Sports.
Best: Cristiano Ronaldo's Assist, Isco's Finish
It was a rare sub-par performance from Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday.
Well, at least by his standards.
Each of his nine attempts on the afternoon failed to land on target. The most notable miss came in the 10th minute after Isco's back-heel pass laid mercifully at his feet. Unable to bury it, Ronaldo sent the shot just wide of the post.
But the favor would be returned in the closing seconds of the first half.
After successfully taking on two separate defenders, CR7 found himself amid a quartet of Osasuna defenders. Boxed in, Ronaldo opted to play the ball into the open space that the opposition awarded his teammate.
The 21-year-old left zero doubts with his finish.
Indisputably, it was a Man of the Match performance from Isco. The Spaniard finished the afternoon with a goal, an assist and 96 percent of his passes completed (68-of-71). As the statisticians at WhoScored point out, four key passes and three dribbles rounded out his resume.
Unfortunately for Los Merengues, it still wasn't enough to walk away with all three points.
Real Madrid were fortunate enough to exit El Sadar Stadium with a result. Pepe's powerful header in the 80th minute ensured that was the case.
Worst: Carlo Ancelotti's Puzzling Substitution
Fresh off a Pepe equalizer, more than 10 minutes remained for Madrid to find the improbable match-winner. Francisco Silva generously created the opportunity after melting down in the 79th minute. A second yellow in less than five minutes time forced the 27-year-old to shamefully exit the pitch.
Carlo Ancelotti was left with one final substitution. One spot-on, tactical decision would be the difference between one point and three. As the previous slide pointed out, Madrid's afternoon belonged to Isco.
Clearly, the logical choice was to remove him in the 84th minute for Jese.
Especially with Karim Benzema aimlessly wandering around the pitch.
Cue the sarcasm meter.
For 90 minutes, the Frenchman listlessly penetrated Madrid's attacking half. Only 14.58 percent of his action took place inside the area. That number becomes increasingly staggering when you compare it to the 62.5 percent spent between the 18-yard box and the edge of the center circle.
Even worse, Benzema finished the afternoon with zero attempts.
According to the Spanish outlet Marca, Ancelotti's final substitution was an attempt to rectify that issue. The Italian manager stated after the match that Jese "came on on the wing to try to get crosses in." He would unsuccessfully attempt two in the final 14 minutes of play.
One landed safely across the opposite touch line.
Now, far be it for anyone to critique the tactical prowess of a man collecting €7.5 million to direct the most powerful brand in all of football. But Ancelotti's decision failed to capture the required result. A catalyst in the midfield, Isco provided Madrid the potent attack it needed to threaten a comeback.
His play hadn't regressed nor waned by the end of his shift.
So the question remains: Why not substitute Alvaro Morata for Benzema instead?
Best: 2 from Oriol Riera Equals 1 Point
As the kids say these days, "Real recognize real."
This slide will serve as the recognition for Osasuna's Oriol Riera.
The 27-year-old pounced on Real Madrid early to give his club a shocking 2-0 lead. Los Rojillos entered the weekend with a league-low 11 goals, yet still managed to pressure their league counterpart in the first half. Riera's brace in the 39th minute carried his season total to seven goals.
That's more than half of Osasuna's productive output this season (13).
His efforts proved to be enough, as the club once again forced Madrid to drop points in Estadio El Sadar. Barcelona faced the same fate earlier this season. As Dermot Corrigan points out, Los Rojillos dictated the two Spanish juggernauts dropping points away from home eight times since 2008.
No other club has been able to match that success.
But even with all the lauding, one fact still remains: Osasuna still sits only two points above the relegation zone.
More work will be required if the club hopes to keep it that way.
Worst: No. 18 for Sergio Ramos
That's No. 18, Sergio Ramos, and conduct unbecoming of a captain.
Aggression and a lack of discipline on the pitch isn't the kind of legacy one wants to leave behind. But after his club-record 18th dismissal, that is the remembrance facing the 27-year-old defender.
He did little to refute that premise on Saturday.
A petulant outburst following a foul earned Ramos his first bookable offense in the 32nd minute. Though given the harsh nature of the whistle, one can see why the captain was visibly upset. Nonetheless—with a little less than an hour to play—he now found himself one mistake away from a second dismissal in 17 days.
That moment came in the 44th minute after a floating forearm landed squarely in the face of Osasuna's Roberto Torres.
Madrid faced a 2-0 deficit at the time.
Now, it must be pointed out that Torres clearly made the most of the altercation. A grazing arm doesn't require one to cross the great divide and act as if he's been struck down from the heavens.
But that still doesn't absolve Ramos of any wrongdoing.
A chippy affair—one that finished with 21 total fouls—left Ramos with little room for error. Referee Carlos Clos Gomez needed to assert his authority and regain control of the match. A man of Ramos' ilk should be aware of that fact. Not to mention, be aware of the first yellow and reputation he carries. Especially with his club down two goals.
Clearly, he wasn't aware enough.
Ramos' lack of composure did Madrid no favors moving forward, either.
Thanks to his sending off, Carlo Ancelotti must weigh the defensive alternatives ahead of next week's visit to Valencia.
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