Sunday night marked another low point in Real Madrid’s campaign, with the crisis plummeting to yet another low point. It was their first defeat to Rayo Vallecano in 22 years and the reality is that the context of the result was even more damning than the statistic. Rayo were bottom of the table and a defeat would have de facto relegated them with three rounds of games to spare.
The football betting around Madrid tends to be favourable to their opponents due to the magnitude of Los Blancos and their ability to pull in bets regardless of their own form. Their upcoming match against Villarreal at least offers a form of redemption for the bewildered team, who have won all four games to date since Zinedine Zidane’s return to the dugout.
It has been away from the Santiago Bernabeu where Madrid have struggled under the Frenchman - they have picked up just two points on their four games on the road under his tenure and none outside of his Madrid. Indeed, for large spells of their short trips to Getafe and Leganes, they were second best despite having vastly superiority resources compared to the sides from the south of the capital.
With three games remaining, it is certain that Los Blancos will finish third in the standings - they ten clear of Getafe but nine behind city rivals Atletico and a whopping 18 from champions Barcelona. There is little point in mincing words over Madrid this season but with the notable exception of the in-form Karim Benzema aside, they have been utterly dreadful and undeserving of any praise whatsoever.
14 of their 19 rivals have taken points from them this season and their title challenge was over before it even began. Julen Lopetegui came and went, then Santiago Solari failed to bring any stability on or off the pitch. The squad became fragmented and factious, with star players - such as Isco - continually overlooked.
The return of Zidane has restored some of the old order but has brought more questions than delivering answers. Keylor Navas has returned as the number one, but rumours persist that either the Costa Rican or Thibaut Courtois will depart this summer. Marcelo has been restored despite being badly out of form. There is little indication that Dani Ceballos or Marcos Llorente will replace the old guard in midfield, although Fede Valverde has been afforded greater prominence.
In reality, the run-in for Madrid is irrelevant and they want to end the pain of this disastrous season as soon as possible.