Rafa Benitez got off to a bad start as Real Madrid manager after a frustrating goalless draw away against Sporting Gijon.
Real Madrid dominated the game and had chance after chance after chance but they just couldn’t break Sporting Gijon down. Real Madrid were very poor here tonight.
Great credit has to go to the home side, who had an incredible 15 players who had come through their academy in their 18 man squad, for defending well and frustrating the visitors.
In fact it was the home side who came closest to breaking the deadlock when Antonio Sanabria had a header rattle off the crossbar and bounce down on the line, it was an inch or two from crossing it.
However there was controversy seconds later when Real Madrid should have won a penalty after Sergio Alvarez pulled Cristiano Ronaldo to the ground. It was a blatant penalty not given, probably because the referee had not given a goal at the other end seconds ago.
Two wrongs don’t make a right and it wasn’t a goal at the other end but it was a penalty so the officials really messed that one up.
There will be a lot of focus on Rafa Benitez’s tactics. He played Gareth Bale in the number 10 just behind the striker with Isco out on the right and Ronaldo out on the left.
Bale looked to struggle in this role. Bale is at his best when he can run at people, where he can take defenders on, cut inside, and use his pace. He can’t do that as a number 10.
And Karim Benzema was left out of the squad entirely. There were rumours earlier in the day that Real Madrid had accepted a £45 million bid from Arsenal for the striker but after this display they missed the work he does up front. They shouldn’t sell him until they have a replacement, even if that means keeping him for the season.
This is not the start Benitez would have wanted where the fans can turn quickly on the manager and the team when things aren’t going well. This result, and more importantly poor display, will instantly put him under pressure.
Will there be some late movement in the transfer market now?