Floundering Real staring straight into 'eye of a tornado'

MADRID • Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal said his side were in the eye of a tornado after losing 0-1 to Villarreal in LaLiga on Saturday, but was at a loss to explain his side's predicament.

Real had 28 shots and Cristiano Ronaldo hit the woodwork twice at a rainswept Santiago Bernabeu. But Pablo Fornals' 87th-minute chip over 'keeper Keylor Navas on the rebound after a counter-attack gave Villarreal their first win at the Bernabeu in 19 visits in all competitions.

"This is very difficult for us, it seems like everything is bad at the moment and we are in the middle of a tornado," Carvajal said after the Spanish champions lost back-to-back league home games for the first time since May 2009.

"But I think deep inside, we are strong and we believe in each other, but anyone who doesn't should get off the boat."

Real are fourth in the LaLiga standings on 32 points - one point ahead of Villarreal and eight adrift of third-placed Valencia, who beat Deportivo La Coruna 2-1 on Saturday. Runaway leaders Barcelona were 16 points clear of Zinedine Zidane's side before yesterday's clash against Real Sociedad.

Real have not had such a low return through 18 games since the 2005-06 season.

Zidane's predecessor Rafael Benitez was sacked after a haul of 37 points from 18 league games but, according to Spanish daily Marca, Zidane's job in safe despite the increasing pressure.

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo appealing in vain for a refereeing decision in his favour. The Portuguese twice smacked the woodwork against Villarreal on Saturday but could not breach the visitors' defence as the Yellow Submarines recorded the
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo appealing in vain for a refereeing decision in his favour. The Portuguese twice smacked the woodwork against Villarreal on Saturday but could not breach the visitors' defence as the Yellow Submarines recorded their first win at the Bernabeu. PHOTO: REUTERS

MURPHY'S LAW

It seems like everything is bad at the moment and we are in the middle of a tornado.

DANI CARVAJAL, Real Madrid right-back, lamenting the champions' run of form.

"We did everything we could and there is no explanation for why the ball didn't go in," said the Frenchman, who signed a new contract to keep him at Real until 2020 earlier in the week. "I can't criticise my players for anything. This is a bad spell, nothing more."

Real's slim chances of getting back into the title race after their 0-3 defeat by Barcelona before Christmas had faded further with last week's 2-2 draw away to Celta Vigo.

"We knew that we could make history today and we always believed it," said Villarreal coach Javi Calleja.

"Real have many virtues but we thought that at this moment of the season and playing at home, they might make more mistakes."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2018, with the headline 'Floundering Real staring straight into 'eye of a tornado''. Print Edition | Subscribe