Karim Benzema among three underperforming Real Madrid stars this season

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Benzema is currently out injured.

A 94th minute winning goal by Antonio Sanabria compounded Real Madrid’s miserable start to the La Liga season on Wednesday night, as Los Blancos slipped seven points adrift of Barcelona at the top of the table.

It was a defeat that could have been prevented given Zinedine Zidane’s men created a bucket a load of chances in the match, but at the end of the day, Real’s record of scoring in 73 consecutive matches went up in smoke.

The loss meant Real have failed to win any of their opening three league contests at the Bernabeu for the first time since 1995.

While it is still early days in the season for the, let’s not forget, reigning La Liga holders and back-to-back Champions League winners – questions are still being asked.

Here, we look at three stars who are already under pressure following below-par performances this term.

MARCELO

The experienced vice-captain, like his club, has endured a tough start to the campaign. Following his red card against Levante for kicking out at defender Jefferson Lerma earlier this month in Real’s last home league outing, the usually brilliant Brazilian sustained a muscle injury against Betis.

It meant the full-back departed after 72 minutes and it looks more than likely he will miss the trip to Alaves this Saturday as well as Tuesday’s huge Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund.

While disciplinary issues and injury have interrupted the flow to Marcelo’s season so far, he hasn’t looked as effective going forward from left-back – registering only one assist, one fruitful attacking dribble and no real key contributions in the final third, of which we have become accustomed to.

This form has led to some boo-boys from the Los Blancos faithful, especially given the fact he recently penned a new contract extension until 2022.

He has generally struggled to reach the level he enjoyed last term – but given his seniority in the side, proven track record and the fact Zidane hasn’t got many other options in that area of the pitch (Theo Hernandez is currently on the injury table), Real will be hoping he will recover quickly.

Real Madrid's defender from Brazil Marcelo (L) vies with Real Betis' forward from Spain Francis Guerrero during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Betis hit a last-minute winner against Real on Wednesday night.

KARIM BENZEMA

While injury meant he missed the ugly defeat to Betis – the jury is still out on the Frenchman, but it seems like it has forever been that way.

The 29-year-old, who has 181 goals to his name in a Los Blancos jersey, earlier this week signalled his intention to see out his career at the Bernabeu by penning a lucrative contract extension until 2021 – which is inclusive of a €1 billion release clause.

While Madrid are committed to the striker who is currently nursing a hamstring injury, pundits and fans alike have picked apart Benzema’s productivity in the box which has seen him score just once this term.

That goal came against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup but he has failed to register a shot on goal in three La Liga outings (208 minutes of football).

When Real have needed him in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, he has simply failed to fill that void despite looking more productive outside of the penalty area.

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema attends a press conference on September 21, 2017 at the Santiago Barnabeu in Madrid. Karim Benzema became the latest Real Madrid star to sign a new bumper four-year contract with the European champions to 2021. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Benzema discussed his new deal at a press conference on Thursday.

CASEMIRO

The combative Real star has been a regular fixture this term and has operated in several positions including centre-back, defensive midfield and as an out-and-out central player.

It is testament to the Brazilian that he can switch roles but it has meant we have not seen the same kind of form from the 25-year-old that he enjoyed in the previous season.

Casemiro called for calm following the Betis shocker – and perhaps he is right – himself, under performing team-mates and Real need more time to get things together again.

Real Betis' forward from Paraguay Arnaldo Sanabria (L) vies with Real Madrid's midfielder from Brazil Casemiro during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Casemiro struggled to win the midfield battle against Betis.

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Lionel Messi has scored more goals than Real Madrid have points and other damning stats

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Real couldn't find a breakthrough despite Ronaldo's return.

Antonio Sanabria’s 94th minute winner stunned the Bernabeu as Real Betis shocked Real Madrid on their own patch.

The 21-year-old’s last-gasp headed goal from an incisive team passing move was a tough one to take for Zinedine Zidane’s side, who had dominated the game for large spells.

Indeed, the reigning La Liga champions – who are now seven points adrift of Barcelona at the top of the table – will be wondering how they didn’t score having registered 27 attempts at goal.

Here, we look at the key numbers in wake of another disappointing result on home territory for the Spanish giants.

73 successive games scored in ends

Failure to score on Wednesday night meant the Whites’ all-time Spanish record of scoring in 73 successive matches came to an end. A quite incredible run.

You have to go back to April 2016 to find the last time when Real drew a blank in front of goal. Manchester City were the side to keep them at bay during a 0-0 draw in the first-leg of their Champions League semi-final clash at the Etihad Stadium.

During the 73-game run, Real scored 200 goals and won 54 matches – and in the process – scooped a La Liga title and two Champions League crowns, among other trophies.

Manchester City's English goalkeeper Joe Hart (L) spreads himself wide to save a close-range shot from Real Madrid's Portuguese defender Pepe (R) during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on April 26, 2016. / AFP / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Real couldn’t find a way past Joe Hart in the first-leg that night.

3 games and no wins at the Bernabeu

Real Madrid have yet to win any of their opening three La Liga home matches – with defeat to Betis compounding more misery following lacklustre draws against Valencia and Levante.

It is their worst run of form since April 2011 – where they also had the same sequence of results for three consecutive outings in their own backyard.

Real Madrid's midfielder Isco reacts during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

There was no Isco Disco on Wednesday.

12 shots from Ronaldo

Making his first La Liga appearance of the season following the five-match domestic ban he attained for shoving a referee in the first-leg of Real’s Spanish Super Cup win against Barcelona back in August, there was a real buzz to see Cristiano Ronaldo’s name on the teamsheet again.

But it didn’t turn into the evening he would have wanted.

The club legend had 12 shots on goal throughout, with only two of them hitting the target. It was a frustrating night and he has a lot of catching up to do if he is to chase down Lionel Messi’s goal haul so far this term – the Argentine has nine to his name.

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Ronaldo was Real’s biggest threat but couldn’t get on the scoresheet.

19 years since Betis last won at the Bernabeu

Trips to the Bernabeu haven’t been fruitful for Real Betis down the years but the team from Seville turned the tables this week – winning their first match at the famous stadium in 19 years.

Few expected the Green and Whites to come away with victory – bringing back memories of the last time they did just that in October 1998, when Finidi George netted the winner in another 1-0 triumph.

Real Betis' forward from Paraguay Arnaldo Sanabria (L) heads the ball to score a goal as Real Madrid's goalkeeper from Costa Rica Keylor Navas dives for the ball during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Sanabria heads home past a hapless Keylor Navas.

1969 was one of 3 times they started slow at home

You have to trawl through the archives to find the first time Real failed to win in each of their opening three league games at home – that came during the 1969-70 season.

Since then, it has only happened twice again in the club’s history. Aside from Wednesday, the second instance it occurred was way back in the 1995-96 campaign.

So, you could say Madrid made it a hat-trick of sorts this week.

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 20: Head coach Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid CF recats as Real Betis Balompie players celebrate their first goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Betis Balompie at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 20, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Zidane cuts an isolated figure on the touchline.

8 points is bettered by Messi

Real Madrid’s lowly points total in La Liga this season is less than Messi’s total in the league – 9.

To rub salt into the wounds, many Barcelona fans were happy to tell all about this stat as Madrid went down to a sucker punch of a late goal.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 19: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on as Catalan Pro-Independence flags are seen on the background during the La Liga match between Barcelona and SD Eibar at Camp Nou on September 19, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Messi has more goals than Real have points.

96 games with just 8 losses for Zidane

While the pressure on Zidane may have gone up a few notches, perspective is needed once again.

The French maestro has still only lost just eight times in the 96 matches he has been in charge – which is the lowest defeat percentage (8.3%) of any manager in the history of the Whites.

That’s well below recent bosses Jose Mourinho (13.4%) and Carloe Ancelotti (14.6%).

Since joining as manager in January 2016, Zidane has also delivered seven trophies – including back-to-back European Cups.

Real Madrid's coach from France Zinedine Zidane gestures during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Zidane has been Real’s lucky charm.

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Striker Karim Benzema extends Real Madrid contract until 2021

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Set to end career at Madrid: Benzema.

Karim Benzema became the latest Real Madrid star to sign a new bumper four-year contract with the European Champions to 2021, the club announced on Wednesday.

“Real Madrid and Benzema have agreed to extend the contract of the player, who will remain tied to the club until June 30, 2021,” Madrid said in a statement.

Vice-captain Marcelo, Isco and Dani Carvajal all extended to 2022 over the past week as Real reward key members of the squad that became the first side to retain the Champions League trophy in June.

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