Real Madrid struggled in the second half and dropped points at second-place Villarreal on Saturday after a 1-1 draw where Los Blancos conceded a penalty kick for the equalizer. Real have now given opponents four penalty kicks total in their last two matches following the three Valencia scored against Zinedine Zidane's team just before the international break.
Real started this match off on the highest of notes but struggled as it went on, failing to threaten goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo much at all.
Here are three takeaways from the match:
Real Madrid were fortunate not to lose
This was another underwhelming performance from Real, who pretty much went full strength minus the absences of star defender Sergio Ramos and striker Karim Benzema. The veterans missed the game due to injury. Villarreal and Real Madrid had almost nearly the same amount of possession, but it was Unai Emery's side that looked like a threat on the ball, at least more than the visitors. While both teams had just one shot on goal, Villarreal had more than twice as many shots at Real Madrid (13-6), and even excluding the penalty won the xG battle 1.07-0.58. It felt like a winner could potentially come after Gerard Moreno's 76th-minute penalty kick though Madrid managed to hang on to a point.
Nacho filled in nicely for Ramos
With Ramos out, Nacho started alongside Raphael Varane and provided quite the performance. He was physical, timed his tackles quite well and handled the pressure put on by the Yellow Submarine. Nacho intercepted three passes and blocked two shots, both tied for most of any Madrid player. His only really glaring issue was a poor pass out of the back that led to a fantastic chance for Moreno, but fortunately for Nacho, he missed just wide.
He did pick up a yellow card for an overly physical challenge in the second half, but Los Blancos fans are used to that from their usual star Ramos, and in defense it was hardly noticeable that he was missing thanks to the shift Nacho put in.
Attack showed very little from third minute on
Take a look at Mariano's fine opener that came in the second minute:
OK, that's all you need to see from Real in attack, because that is all they did. Eden Hazard was awful, Martin Odegaard didn't create, and without Benzema, the attack had no focal point. So despite the fact that Hazard and Odegaard combined to complete 29 of 31 passes in the final third, they didn't create a single chance for Madrid.
In the end, it's probably a good point for Zidane's team considering the underwhelming performance, but it also doesn't exactly scream "good form" ahead of a big Champions League clash at Inter Milan this week.