Real Madrid’s run without a win in LaLiga extended to two matches as Rayo Vallecano inflicted a 3-2 defeat upon Los Blancos at Vallecas on Monday night. Óscar Trejo’s second-half penalty added to goals from Santi Comesaña early on and Álvaro García just before the break to cancel out Luka Modrić’s penalty and Éder Militão’s header which came in the space of four minutes.
Here are three stats which help to tell the tale of the match.
2015: The last time Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid lost after being ahead
Having built a reputation as the comeback kings of Europe, Real Madrid are certainly not accustomed to being on the wrong end of a comeback. In fact, it has not happened to them since Carlo Ancelotti returned to the club last year, and this was the first time since a 4-3 defeat to Schalke in 2015.
It is a feat which has only happened a total of seven times during Ancelotti’s 193 matches in charge of Los Blancos. The last time it happened was January 4th 2015, when Valencia won 2-1 at Mestalla despite an early Cristiano Ronaldo penalty. In Spain, it hasn’t happened with Ancelotti in the dugout and two goals in Real Madrid’s favour since a 4-2 defeat to Real Sociedad on August 31st 2014.
It was also Rayo’s first time scoring three against Real Madrid at Vallecas since 1977 and meant that Los Blancos remain with just two clean sheets from the first 13 LaLiga games being the lowest figure since 2013/14. Surrendering the lead at the top of the table to a Barcelona team who are breaking records for their defensive strength, this run may be a little worrying for the Italian coach.
2: Opposition penalties retaken because of VAR since its introduction, the joint-highest in LaLiga
In an alternate universe, this game could have ended very differently as Thibaut Courtois denied Óscar Trejo’s penalty from 12 yards to keep the scoreline at 2-2. However, he was marginally off his goal line and referee Juan Martínez Munuera called for it to be retaken with the assistance of VAR. That was the second time that Real Madrid have fallen foul of VAR’s eagle eye on the goalkeeper’s feet and the line at penalties.
That puts Real Madrid level with Real Valladolid on two apiece, while there have been a total of 10 cases of penalties being called back in LaLiga since VAR was introduced in 2018. It’s clearly an area that Courtois can work on going forwards.
Only in midweek the Belgian denied Josip Juranović of Celtic from the spot, but this is the third penalty Courtois has conceded in LaLiga this season as Trejo joined Cristhian Stuani of Girona and Iago Aspas of Celta Vigo in the list of men to beat him from a penalty. In the space of nine games this season, Courtois has conceded as many penalties in LaLiga as he did in his previous 58.
2: Both of Real Madrid’s big chances were created by Marco Asensio
If there was one bright spark for Real Madrid at Vallecas on Monday night, it was another promising display from Marco Asensio. With two big chances created and three in total, he generated a match-leading of 0.57, alongside an xG of 0.12. That was the second game in a row in which Asensio has created more chances than any other player, having created five against Celtic in midweek.
What may be a worry is who else was creating chances. Asensio created three in total, but the next most creative players were the two central defenders in Éder Militão and David Alaba, also on two each. Three others were spread across one each from Vinícius Júnior, Rodrygo Goes and Nacho Fernández. The highest xA coming from the Real Madrid midfield was just 0.06 from Luka Modrić.
Toni Kroos’ absence was notable in Vallecas and his influence in midfield was missing. With Fede Valverde dropping in to the middle, he was also less threatening and Real Madrid struggled to keep up with the energy of a Rayo midfield. As Ancelotti admitted that maybe a more direct approach could have been more successful post-match, he seemed to even recognise that bypassing the midfield could have made a difference.