Real Madrid has not started this La Liga season like they want to, they have dropped some points that could have been won easly.
Four years ago, Eibar were playing in Segunba B, the same division in which Castilla currently plays. But thanks to a meteoric double-promotion and a bit of luck, SD Eibar are in their third straight year in La Liga, making the grand total of years they’ve played in La Liga…three.
They’re a tiny club by any standard, and in their first year in La Liga they finished 18th but skirted relegation because Elche’s finances and debt were so abhorrent that they fell through the trap door. Eibar followed up their narrow escape by finishing 14th last season, and currently sit 8th.
Eibar reporter Paul Reidy was kind enough to give us some of his time for a Q&A, and he can better explain anything you might hope to know about the enemy this week. It’s hard to say if Eibar’s strong start is sustainable or not. They’ve been stingy in defense and got an impressive win against La Real, but have only scored more than one goal once. Eibar certainly look good enough to stay up, and anything more than finishing in the mid-table would be gravy.
Meanwhile in Madrid, Los Blancos are probably excited to return to their home pitch following two tough games on the road. One small problem, though: Luka Modrić is set to be out for up to a month with a knee injury.
Do Real Madrid still rely too heavily on our beloved magician, the way they did in 2014-15? This match will be insufficient evidence to pass that judgement, but one has to imagine Mateo Kovačić, James Rodríguez, and Isco will outperform their 2014 counter parts: an out-to-lunch Sami Khedira, a neglected Asier Illarramendi, and an out-of-position Sergio Ramos.
Through September, the issues for Madrid hung on opposite ends of the pitch. Most of Madrid’s defending mishaps were due to lapses between the ears rather than due to technical ability, as Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane lacked the rapport we saw from them in August. In attack, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo both looked a bit heavy-legged at times, though one could argue they’re each playing themselves into fitness.
As a manager, Zidedine Zidane has never dropped points at home in consecutive matches (across all competitions). Before the Villarreal draw, he’d only dropped points once in the Bernabéu: against Atléti last season. Now, Zidane gets to return to his familiar fortress without his talisman midfielder.
Toni Kroos has shown he’s capable of being the player through which the entire team moves. With another year on and more capable supplicants playing near him, it’s easy to feel a bit excited to see what Toni can do as the lone conductor.
Watch Live: 9sport
Sunday, 2 September 2016 at 10:15AM EST
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Danilo, Sergio Ramos, Varane, Carvajal; Toni Kroos, Isco, James; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
SD Eibar: Asier Riesgo; Luna, Lejeune, Gálvez, Capa; Bebé, García, Escalante, León; Kike, Enrich