Girona Shock Real Madrid as Ramos Sees Red
It was always going to be difficult for Real Madrid post-Ronaldo, but another defeat at the Bernabeu against Girona left Solari’s side nine points behind Barcelona in the face to win the La Liga title.
Not only did Madrid fall to defeat on home soil, but captain Sergio Ramos was also dismissed in the 90th minute for a second yellow card. This particular sending off was Ramos’ 20th in La Liga – a record high.
It all started so well when Casemiro scored on the 25th minute for Madrid, but a second-half masterclass from Eusebio Sacristán’s side saw Girona shock everyone and come away with all three points.
Ramos’ first yellow card was for a handball inside the box, allowing Girona to equalise on what was truly an evening to forget for the flamboyant centre-back.
Both sides recently met in the Copa del Rey, where despite Girona sneaking an early lead, Real Madrid went on to win the first leg 4-2 before a 3-1 victory at the Estadi Montilivi.
A trip to Levante at the weekend should be fairly routine, with bet365 making the away side the 6/11 favourites in the La Liga betting to get back to winning ways. However, when these sides met earlier in the campaign, Levante collected all three points with a 2-1 victory, so it may not be as straightforward as the bookmakers think.
Joining Ramos on the sidelines will be Isco, who remains out due to injury.
They will want to build some momentum as well, facing Barcelona twice on the trot in the Copa del Rey before a huge showdown in La Liga in March.
Real Madrid do hold the advantage with an away goal and 1-1 draw from the first leg at the Nou Camp, which would have pleased Solari for a fine effort. Even Messi, who was introduced in the second half, couldn’t find a late winner for his side.
Despite a poor campaign in La Liga, Real Madrid scored two vital away goals against Ajax in the Champions League, as they look to secure their fourth title in as many years.
The void has certainly been felt since Ronaldo joined Juventus, but their experience within the Champions League has clearly shown, as they have one foot in the quarterfinals, being priced at 8/15 to take care of Ajax early March.
Los Blancos, however, remain sixth-favourites to win the competition at 9/1, with Man City, Barcelona, PSG, Juventus and Liverpool all preferred to stop Solari’s side in their tracks.
March is arguably make or break for Real Madrid. A win over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey will make them strong favourites to land the domestic cup, while a league win over their rivals will provide them a glimmer of hope to upset the odds in the title race.
First up, however, is that trip to Levante and Solari will know from the pressure above him his Real Madrid side cannot afford to lose two games of football in quick succession.