“A victory like today is a win for the team. A victory thanks to the work of everyone who has participated, including those who came on to lend a hand. The important thing was to get the three points and do so with this spirit of sacrifice. The fans know that the most important thing when you have players of this quality is that they also work as they did today. That is the key if we want to continue being strong in the future.” Those are the words of relieved Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez.
His side returned to winning ways against Eibar in the league this weekend, earning a long overdue clean sheet for good measure. Benitez eased the pressure on his shoulders with a 2-0 win, but the victory belongs to the defence for a much more organised display. Los Blancos were enduring the worst month of their season after shipping 10 goals in three games, but have finally enjoyed a shutout almost four weeks since their last.
An impressive 1-0 win against Paris Saint-Germain preceded a horror show of results that saw Real Madrid losing 3-2 to Sevilla and 4-0 to Barcelona in the Spanish La Liga, while shipping three goals to Shakhtar in the Champions League. As a manager best-known for organising a side to be hard to beat and score against, Benitez found himself under intense pressure only a week ago, but can put that behind him after this weekend’s outing.
Real Madrid are still adrift in the title race, but their result against Eibar is certainly a step in the right direction after a tricky month. Los Blancos nevertheless need to better the form of rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid to stand a chance of major silverware, but a new-found organised defensive structure is a strong foundation to build on.
Eibar could well have been a banana-skin fixture given their form in their own backyard this season, but Real ensured they kept their opposition at bay conceding only one shot on target inside the area. Benitez side ground out a valuable three points at a time where they were close to being at their lowest ebb against a team that have been hard to beat at home. It’s slow progress, but progress nonetheless for Real, and now their defence look organised after a troublesome month.
Can Real Madrid finally put November behind them and build on their victory over Eibar?