Jose Mourinho cut a frustrated figure as he entered the post-match Press conference at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Sunday evening. The Real Madrid boss had just seen his side fall to a surprise 2-1 defeat to modest neighbours Getafe, a result which brought to an end 15 consecutive victories against sides from the Spanish capital.
Talk of crisis at the Bernabeu may be somewhat premature after just two games, nonetheless, the reigning champions have endured their worst start to a campaign in almost 40 years and already sit five points behind a resurgent Barcelona who earlier came from behind to beat Osasuna 2-1 in Pamplona.
An uncharacteristic start to a season for Mourinho was followed by an uncharacteristic reaction, as he laid into his players post-match for their ‘unacceptable’ performance. Praise for Getafe boss Luis Garcia and his team for a deserved victory was peppered with the stark admittance that his players were ‘very bad’.
In truth there was little he could say, though. The Portuguese Coach was equally culpable as he blundered when replacing hard working midfielder Lassana Diarra with Karim Benzema 13 minutes into the second half. It was a decision that ultimately cost his team the game.
It was a bold decision from Mourinho, coming immediately after Juan Valera had brought Getafe back on level terms, however, with more than half an hour of a match in which they had enjoyed overwhelming dominance of possession still remaining, it was a decision that backfired horribly.
True, the introduction of Benzema added increased impetuous going forward, however, without a recognised defensive midfielder on the pitch, Madrid were left horribly exposed at the back – the underperforming Raul Albiol looking particularly uncomfortable. It would be harsh to highlight individuals, not least because a number of players were on the peripheries of the game, but nevertheless, the former Valencia defender had a night to forget.
Albiol looked far from convincing throughout the game and was at fault for Getafe’s winner as he allowed Adrian Colunga space to set up Abdel Barrada 15 minutes from time. Replays showed Colunga used his hand before racing clear of his marker, yet the infringement should not detract from the fact that Albiol woefully misjudged the flight of the ball. One must wonder what hugely-talented French youngster Raphael Verane must have been thinking sat on the Real Madrid bench – calls to hand the 19-year-old a starting berth will surely increase in the wake of yet another horror show from Albiol.
Elsewhere on the pitch, Mesut Ozil was poor – yet still allowed to play the entire 90 minutes, while Cristiano Ronaldo was again largely conspicuous by his absence. The Portuguese maestro spoke of his tiredness after last weekend’s draw against Valencia and it is clear he is yet to fire on all cylinders. The normally reliable Xabi Alonso has also struggled to find his range so far this season – surely a by-product of a gruelling summer in which he played a key role in Spain’s Euro 2012 triumph before jetting off for Real Madrid’s lucrative but tiring tour of the United States.
The decision to travel across the Atlantic for yet another pre-season is beginning to look increasingly misjudged – not least when Barcelona, who chose to remain in Europe, continue to look far sharper than their rivals. This is a subject that obviously perturbs Mourinho as he again drew attention to it during Sunday’s post-match Press conference saying.
“Tired players are not able to analyse what went wrong, we will go home to rest then discuss it. For now, you can come to your own conclusions.”
With the Supercopa visit of Barcelona on Wednesday night, however, there is little time for rest. The Catalans go into the match with a slender 3-2 advantage but it is still very much all to play for in an encounter that is more about gaining an early psychological advantage than lifting a trophy. Win that match and Real Madrid would give their season the kick-start it so desperately needs after such an underwhelming beginning.
Whilst few will be hitting the panic buttons just yet at the Bernabeu, it is interesting to note that only one team has ever gone on to clinch the League title after securing up just one point from their opening two games. That team?
Barcelona of course.