Real Madrid 0-3 CSKA Moscow: Major points from a humiliating night at the Bernabeu
Although Real Madrid had managed to book their spot in the knockout stage of this year’s Champions League, Santiago Solari had insisted that his side finish on a high.
However, in a performance that epitomized their below-par start to the season, goals by Fedor Chalov, Georgi Schennikov, and Arnor Sigurdsson secured an emphatic 3-0 success for CSKA.
Suffering their heaviest European defeat in Madrid’s illustrious history, what were the major talking points after another humiliating night in the Spanish capital:
Real’s youngsters crumble under the pressure
While Wednesday’s Group G finale was supposed to be an occasion that Madrid could showcase the next generation of Los Blancos’, Solari’s youngsters very publically failed to live up to expectations.
At just an average age of 24 years and 100 days, Madrid fielded their youngest XI in the Champions League since 2005.
Despite Solari also handing starts to the likes of Karim Benzema, Marcelo, and Isco, it simply looked like a case of Men vs Boys in the Spanish capital and one nobody seen coming in the Champions League picks or betting odds suggested by the bookmakers.
Unable to match the intensity and the physicality from their Russian visitors, the defending champions never looked likely to find a way back into the game after shipping two first-half strikes.
CSKA have scored 3+ goals in a Champions League match for the first time since 2015.
They've only gone and done it at the Bernabéu of all venues. 🏟 pic.twitter.com/M4vx6upTm6
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 12, 2018
If there was to be one ever so minor positive that Solari will be taking away from Wednesday’s drumming, it would be the brief glimpses that academy starlet Vinicius Junior showed.
Becoming the third youngest player to make his Champions League debut, only behind Iker Casillas and Raul, the 18-year-old did try to make his mark on the game in the brief moments he could find a foothold.
Attempting 11 dribbles and completing seven of those, more than any other Madrid player has across all competitions, Junior was the only academy graduate who left the Bernabeu pitch with his head held high.
Thibaut Courtois in a Spanish nightmare?
While Thibaut Courtois labeled his move to the Bernabeu as “a dream come true” and controversially kissed the badge upon his arrival, the former Chelsea man might now be wishing he had just stayed put in west London.
With Courtois’ £70million replacement, Kepa Arrizabalaga quickly becoming a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge and putting in a string of eye-catching performances, the same can not be said for Belgium’s #1.
Conceding another handful of goals on Wednesday and heavily criticized for the way he dealt with CSKA’s second, the 26-year-old has already shipped 31 goals since arriving in Madrid.
Also playing a part in Madrid’s 5-1 hammering away at the Nou Camp back in October, the former Premier League winner looks a shadow of the goalkeeper who won the Golden Glove at the World Cup only a few months ago.
— thesportsman (@TheSportsman) December 12, 2018
After starting the season as Madrid’s #1 and briefly keeping Courtois on the bench, many Real fans are now calling for Keylor Navas to be reinstalled between the posts.
A reliable shot-stopper and a firm faviroute of former boss Zinedine Zidane, the numbers could also show why a change of goalkeepers could be needed for Los Blancos.
At this point last season, Navas had conceded seven fewer goals and comfortably held a better shot to save ratio.
The writings on the wall for Isco
A stadium that was filled with whistles and jeers every time Isco touched the ball, there is no doubt that the Madrid fans were aiming their anger at one man in particular.
Cutting a frustrated figure in what is becoming a very rare appearance for the 26-year-old, the playmaker was clearly becoming aggravated by the chorus of boos by turning to the ground and shouting “What do you want?”.
While the Spaniard is regarded to be one of the most creative attacking midfielders across Europe, Isco has freefallen down Solari’s pecking order.
Prior to Wednesday’s match with CSKA, Isco’s only other start for Madrid since the middle of October came in last week’s Copa del Rey clash with lower league Melilla.
To make matters worse and also add to the already hostile atmosphere at the Bernabeu, Marcelo announced during the post-game press conference that Isco declined the captain’s armband when he was substituted in the second-half.
“I tried to give the armband to Isco [when I came off for Dani Carvajal], but he told me that I had to give it to Carvajal. I don’t know what the reason for that was.”
Although the 34-cap Spanish international was a vital part of both Zidane’s and Carlo Ancelotti team, Isco’s tenure in the capital appears to be coming to a very abrupt end.
There is no doubt that a number of Premier League sides will be on red alert over a potential January swoop.
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