Real Madrid 1-2 Girona: Talking points as it's time for Marcelo to go

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Marcelo in action against Girona

No sooner had Real Madrid re-entered La Liga’s title race, they were sent straight back out of it after falling to a dire 2-1 defeat at home to Girona.

Casemiro had headed his side in front with a fine header from a Toni Kroos cross in the 25th minute.

The hosts continued to dominate without too much penetration heading into the break. And Girona came alive following the interval, profiting from poor defending to snatch all three points.

Cristhian Stuani netted from the penalty spot after Sergio Ramos’ handball. Portu then prospered from slack marking to slot home the winner from a Thibaut Courtois save.

Ramos, booked for his part in the penalty, was sent off late on for a second yellow.

Here, we examine the key Madrid talking points following Girona’s first ever win at the Bernabeu.


Girona players celebrate

Girona players celebrate

It doesn’t take much to light a firestorm on Twitter these days, with any error under a magnifying glass capable of igniting red-hot vitriol.

Yet, there’s no intrinsic inspection required to spot Marcelo’s mistakes in this game. Having sat out Real’s two previous assignments on the substitutes’ bench, head coach Santiago Solari handed the Brazil left-back an opportunity to gain some much-needed confidence from the outset on Sunday.

He returned with a Jekyll-and-Hyde display mirroring that of Madrid. In the first half, Marcelo marched forward in typical trademark style, whipping in delightful crosses with either foot and combining well with Toni Kroos and Marco Asensio.

Real’s attacks all funnelled through that left channel and in fact, Marcelo actually found the net with a neat finish only to be flagged for offside.

But Girona’s introverted approach meant he went largely untested defensively. When the visitors returned from the break brimming with energy and pushing high up the pitch, Marcelo was exposed and exploited.

Both goals were criminal and his fingerprints were all over the scene. The 30-year-old didn’t get tight enough to Portu, who was able to cross in the lead up to the penalty.

And then again, was yards off the same man when Courtois’ weak stop dropped to his feet and he poked home.

Granted, Marcelo wasn’t the only poor performer – Marco Asensio, Dani Ceballos and Raphael Varane were all culpable. But he was the worst of a bad bunch.

A damning statistic from MisterChip reads Real conceding a goal every 52 minutes when Marcelo is on the pitch.

With Sergio Reguilon, it is a goal every 135 minutes. Expect to see Marcelo return to the bench and then offloaded in the summer.


Sergio Ramos is sent off

Sergio Ramos is sent off

Red is quite a poignant colour for Ramos.

When you think of the Los Blancos captain, you are immediately drawn to impassioned images of his furious face as the ultra-competitive defender fights for victory.

Oh, and of course the scarlet card as well. The 32-year-old was dismissed for the 25th time during his distinguished career, in what Solari later described was an “occupational hazard”.

In truth, Ramos was fortunate to even be on the field to receive a second yellow. His first was for a handball which denied Aleix Garcia a pretty certain equaliser, his flailing arms positioned away from his body and in the way of the goal.

Stuani, who enjoys scoring against La Liga’s big two, dispatched the resulting penalty and then Ramos incredibly cried foul in the other box after collapsing from a soft touch.

The Spain international was eventually sent off in injury time for what was actually a dubious high foot as he attempted an overhead kick.

He was of course the centre of attention in midweek after deliberately fouling Frenkie de Jong to wipe out his yellow card count with a suspension for the second leg tie with Ajax.

Ironically, he’ll be available for El Clasico as he’s now banned for the Levante fixture having reached his five-card quota.


Toni Kroos

Toni Kroos

There are not many positives to draw from this momentum-sapping defeat for Real having seen their five-match La Liga win streak ended and almost certainly any feint title hopes, too.

However, there’s still room to appreciate Kroos. The Germany midfielder can legitimately lay claim to being Europe’s finest deliverers of a ball.

Corners, wide free-kicks and crosses, he remains a real weapon for Real.

He’s second in La Liga for accurate corners (2.4 per game), his 1.5 crosses is in the top 10 (1.5 per game) and his free-kicks are third (3.1 per game). No other player ranks consistently so highly across all three categories.

You would imagine this data is available for the Girona coaching staff and players, but they clearly ignored them because the visitors gave him ample time to swing in a peach of a cross to to assist Casemiro.

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