A sloppy Real Madrid ground out a tie against Lyon yesterday. It was a less than impressive performance from the club that is supposed to have a new image with Jose Mourinho and be legit competitors to win the Champions League.
After last night's performance I don't think any team would be worried about facing Madrid. That statement isn't any sort of slight on Lyon. Lyon played well and they are a solid club. But this is now the second week of the knock-out rounds in the Champions League and we have already seen more inspired performances by Arsenal, Barcelona, Tottenham, Chelsea and arguably Lyon.
Based upon performances thus far, Madrid is at best the sixth or seventh best team in the Champions League.
Mourinho was upset with the missed handball on the penalty kick by Cristiano Ronaldo. He definitely had reason to complain, but his main complaints should be focused on his own team. From the keeper to the strikers, there was little to praise after last nights efforts.
Iker Casillas made a poor decision and almost gave up an early goal when he came out too far for a ball and mishandled it. Fortunately for Real, Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis failed to capitalize. Although he did have his redemption later.
Real's defense was also sloppy. Real failed to develop much out of the back and the defenders appeared as though they were constantly clearing the ball as opposed to being able to possess and find midfielders or other outlets. They gave up possession far too often.
Whether that is the fault of the defenders or the midfield is unclear. Not that the midfield was impressive.
Angel Di Maria looked like he was trying to be the next Ronaldo as he possessed the ball for too long and often after lost it trying to dribble through too many defenders.
Mesut Ozil spent most of the first 60 minutes mishandling the ball and failing to make passes or create much in the midfield.
When Real tried to counter, there was no midfield support. Ronaldo and Adebayor would go streaking down the field on outlet passes but five or six defenders or midfielders for Lyon were behind the ball before any Madrid players could support the attack.
Granted, it wasn't all terrible for Real as they did manage to score and for a few minutes in the second half looked like they were under control and would walk away with a much needed win.
However, like previous seasons, before any fans could think that Real had the situation under control, Lyon struck back and equalized.
I understand that an away draw for a team is usually a good result, especially when the draw includes an away goal. But yesterday's game was more of a victory for Lyon and loss for Madrid, especially when they scored the first goal. All of the pressure is on Real to not only advance in the Champions League, but be legit contenders or winners of the League. The expectations are ridiculously high.
How far will Real Madrid advance in the Champions League?
Thus, Madrid will enter the next game with all the pressure in the world knowing that everyone is expecting them to win. Lyon, without the pressure or expectations can play to Real's weakness or tension and sit back and defend and work for the counter attack. Should anything go wrong or out of the ordinary at the Barnabeau, the pressure and expectations could lead to a monumental collapse in front of their own fans.
As a Madrid fan, I hate to be such a pessimist. I want to be optimistic and I of course hope that Real pulls out the victory.
I thought that this season was going to be different and that the squad was better prepared under Mourinho to easily advance out of the first round. I expected difficulties, but not until later stages against Barcelona or one of the top Premier League clubs.
Perhaps I was getting ahead of myself. Perhaps the players were too. I hope things get better and that the players come back for the next leg and prove that they are improved from last season. Because after last night's sloppy performance, I'm not so sure they are.