Real Madrid Line-up: Casillas, Ramos, Carvalho, Albiol (Alonso 65′), Arbeloa, Khedira, Lass (Kaká 65′), Özil, Di María (Adebayor 65′), Ronaldo and Benzema
The glamour boys of Madrid travelled 450km up North to take on an inferior Osasuna team in the hostile Reyno de Navarro. With the current state of affairs in the Osasuna camp a win was as unlikely as them winning a La Liga trophy anytime soon. However, the story would be scripted differently on a cold winter’s night over the following 90 minutes for the Pamplona side.
Real Madrid were coming off a narrow win in the Copa del Rey against Sevilla and entering this game, were expected by many to have won comfortably over their rivals. Haphazardly, this was not the case, and los blancos were lacking incisiveness and were for the most part disorganized. Osasuna on the other hand, were ready to sweat blood to gain something from the match and this was shown from the outset; exhibiting both tactical and defensive awareness, fight and displaying great harmony among each other- defended as a unit, whilst attacked as a unit. The same cannot be said about their counter-part as the millionaire boys time and time again were too individualistic and lacked the vision which led them to make too many bad decisions when the right one was there in front of them; they played the hero and got zero!
It all started off wonderfully for the whites as they controlled the game, in terms of possession, albeit, creating little they nevertheless kept their opponents at bay. The poor decisions began as early as the sixth minute for the away side, when Di María drew a foul on the right of the box and from about 25 yards out Ronaldo had two options; find the head of Ramos (the most logical) or take a strike at goal (the harder of the two) and of course he chose the latter, hitting it into the wall and out for a throw. In the 11th minute, Benzema had a chance to get on the end of a brilliant cross from Di María but was a bit slow to connect with the ball. That effort was followed up by another clear cut opportunity on goal for Ronaldo in the 23rd minute- a long ball played into space for the Portuguese man to run on to and probably should have taken a pop at goal but he hesitated and the ball eventually got tangled between his legs allowing Sergio to get back and poke the ball away. In the 30th minute, Osasuna, probably should have taken the lead when Camuñas delivered a sweet ball into the box for Pandiani to head in but he instead headed the ball over the bar. Immediately, Real Madrid had their chance to open the scoring with Benzema’s hammered shot toward goal from just inside the box but the 39 year old veteran, perhaps one of the top 5 keepers in La Liga, came up brilliantly to turn the shot around the post, denying the French man his 3rd La Liga goal this season. Ricardo produced another immaculate save to deny Real the opener, after Di María played Ronaldo in with a lovely ball to strike venomously on goal. The half would end 0-0 and Osasuna were certainly the happier of the two sides at the break. The second half would begin the way the first did; Real Madrid knocking the ball around, probing while the home team defended stoutly, forcing their opponents into shots from long range- at which point everyone tried to be the hero with their ludicrous efforts. It would all continue downhill for the away team in the 62nd minute when Pandiani caught Albiol out, flicking the ball on for Camuñas, who executed his finish brilliantly off the inside of the left post beating Casillas, who had NO chance of stopping it.
Mourinho tried his best to turn things around using up all his substitutes in one go- Kaká, Alonso and Adebayor (handed his debut), but to no avail as all three came on to little effect. And while the visitors tried to push for an equalizer, the away team were nearly gifted a second when former cantera, Aranda dribbled past not one but three Real Madrid players, laying the ball back on a platter for Vadócz to rifle into an empty net but his shot was too weak and Arbeloa managed to clear it off the line, sparing the visitors’ blushes.
After a long 5 minutes added time, the final whistle went, handing Osasuna a colossal, yet, much needed and well-deserved victory over their prodigious opponents. Aranda had a spectacular game against his former employers, wreaking havoc on the defence on many occasions and certainly gets my vote for man of the match.
The whites can now kiss any hopes of winning the league title good-bye and should probably focus solely on the King’s Cup and the Champions League!