Real Madrid’s stuttering start to the season continued with a 1-1 draw at home against newly-promoted Levante. Los Blancos looked formidable coming into the campaign but are badly missing the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo, serving a five-match ban for shoving a referee during the Super Cup win over Barcelona, is the team’s star forward. Despite their depth, Madrid were always going to struggle to replace one of the world’s best players.
Madrid were caught napping early on and fell behind after a long throw led directly to a shot on goal. Ivan Lopez benefitted from an assist reminiscent of Stoke City legend Rory Delap. It was scrappy but Levante were ahead.
Things went from bad to worse for the home side before the half hour when Karim Benzema had to go off injured.
Madrid were able to call Gareth Bale off the bench to play as a centre-forward. Soon afterward, Lucas Vazquez equalised. Game on. Except Madrid couldn’t find a breakthrough. Bale went close but couldn’t deliver.
Zidane gambled with his team selection, choosing to rest players like Luka Modric, Isco, Casemiro, Raphael Varane and Keylor Navas. It backfired. Madrid’s game lacked the slick rhythm that fans have become accustomed to.
They’re set to miss Marcelo for a few games too with the Brazilian left-back getting sent off late on. Madrid have dropped four points in their opening three games and could fall four behind Barcelona later today.