Karim Benzema Saves Real Madrid with Late Goal in 3-2 Win vs. Huesca

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2019

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema (R) challenges SD Huesca's Venezuelan midfielder Yangel Herrera (C) and SD Huesca's Argentinian defender Martin Mantovani (L) during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and SD Huesca at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 31, 2019. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Karim Benzema curled in a late winner as Real Madrid won for the second time in as many matches since Zinedine Zidane returned as manager, beating Huesca 3-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Isco and Dani Ceballos scored after Watford loanee Juan Camilo Hernandez had given bottom-of-the-table Huesca a shock third-minute lead. The visitors drew level when skipper Xabier Etxeita headed in 16 minutes from time, but Benzema had the final say.  

Real have now closed to within two points on second-place Atletico Madrid but remain 12 adrift of La Liga leaders Barcelona.


Real Can't Let Weak Link Marcelo Stay

As much as Santiago Solari was pilloried for many of his decisions as manager, the man who Zidane replaced for his second spell in charge did get one thing right: dropping error-strewn left-back Marcelo.

Unfortunately, Zidane's second tour has given Marcelo a reprieve. He's back in the starting lineup and is committed to remaining in the Spanish capital even at the expense of a possible move to Juventus, according to Sergio Gomez of AS.

Yet Marcelo hasn't been making the most of his Zidane-inspired lifeline, and Real simply can't let the obvious weak link in a shaky back four stay in place.

The 30-year-old was Huesca's favourite target as the struggling visitors manufactured a host of chances down his side.

Ben Hayward @bghayward

Marcelo loses the ball, is caught up field, Huesca attack down his side and score. Zidane may be back, but some things are still the same...

Kiyan Sobhani @KiyanSo

Nacho was pretty unlucky on that sequence. Didn't do much wrong, just a bad bounce. Marcelo can't assume his man is getting picked up in the box

Marcelo was also robbed of possession on several occasions. His poor touch and dawdling decision-making put Zidane's men under unnecessary pressure, like when his weak attempt to block allowed Yangel Herrera to fire a fierce shot a whisker past the post in the second half.

Creating problems where they need not exist has become a familiar foible for a player who used to be one of the pillars of the most dominant team on the continent. Now, Real can't delay the search for his replacement.

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Not sure how much longer Marcelo's return to team can last.

Eduardo Alvarez @Alvarez

Marcelo starting again might be Zidane’s way of getting all the evidence required to get rid of him

Frankly, there's no need to wait, not when Sergio Reguilon's enterprising displays have caught the eye more than once this season. The 22-year-old has done more than enough to prove he merits a longer look in the starting XI.

Zidane is understandably faithful to many of the old guard who helped him win a hat-trick of UEFA Champions League trophies with Los Merengues. Things have changed quickly since he first left the Bernabeu, though, and Marcelo's rapid deterioration is a symbol of the decline abridging Zidane's two terms as manager.

Real can no longer afford to carry Marcelo in a defence beset by age and inconsistency. Nacho is not a long-term solution at centre-back, while skipper Sergio Ramos has seen his best days.

A defensive overhaul is not just necessary, it's essential, and Marcelo's exit must be the first step.


What's Next?

Real are in Valencia on Wednesday, while Huesca host Celta Vigo in league action.