Gifting Barca the title! Winners, losers & ratings as Asensio penalty miss condemns miserable Real Madrid to Mallorca defeat

Asensio Vinicius Ancelotti Real Madrid GFX
Los Blancos could be as many as eight points behind their biggest rivals by Sunday night as their poor recent form continued

It's all getting a bit nervy in Madrid. Real have endured a turbulent few weeks, dropping points to Real Sociedad and Villarreal, while Barcelona continue to win. And it got worse on Sunday, with Los Blancos turning in a lifeless performance against Mallorca, crumbling to a 1-0 defeat and giving their arch-rivals a real chance to pull away in the title race.

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was injured in the warm-up, but there was little back-up Andriy Lunin could do about Mallorca's opener, as Vedat Muriqi glanced his header off Nacho, who helped the ball loop into the net after 13 minutes.

Carlo Ancelotti's side responded with long spells of possession, but had little to show for it. This was mostly a makeshift Madrid side, with Karim Benzema and Eder Militao out with injuries, while Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were only named among the substitutes.

Real have made a habit of dramatic comebacks in the last 18 months, but this time, it didn't come off. Marco Asensio wasted their best chance, missing from the penalty spot after Vinicius Junior was fouled, but they struggled to create many more clear-cut chances.

Barcelona, meanwhile, were likely laughing, and have the chance to move themselves well clear at the top with a win over Sevilla later on Sunday.

  1. The Winners
    Getty Images

    The Winners

    Aurelien Tchouameni:

    While the injury issues have mounted up elsewhere, Carlo Ancelotti was handed a boost with the full return of Tchouameni for this one. Real have played around with their options in defensive midfield in recent weeks, as Eduardo Camavinga and Toni Kroos have both slotted into the position, with varying degrees of success. But Tchouameni is the main man, and he was effective as ever against Mallorca. The France international controlled the midfield for 70 minutes, completing the most passes in the match and winning all-but one of his duels. He was replaced with 20 minutes remaining as Madrid opted for a more attacking setup, and they notably lacked authority without him.

    Eduardo Camavinga:

    Speaking of young stars, has there been a more versatile player in Europe since the World Cup? When Camavinga slotted in at left-back for France in Qatar, many were puzzled. However, it worked out fine for the finalists, with the central midfielder turning in a solid shift at an unfamiliar position. Madrid have asked him to do the same for two games straight now, and Camavinga has thrived. He's not a natural fit, but his one-on-one defending is excellent. He had some crucial interventions in this one, including one perfectly-timed slide tackle to prevent a clear chance early on. He was eventually moved to centre-midfield, and looked equally comfortable there. What a talent.


    The Blaugrana must be laughing. If they beat struggling Sevilla on Sunday, they can go eight points clear halfway through the season, with their biggest rivals in morbid form. It's always important to pick up points in title races, but this loss felt like a particularly bad one for Madrid. Mallorca is never an easy place to play, but it's games like this that can be so crucial come the end of the season. Barca have managed to negotiate such contests in recent weeks, and that just might be the difference.

  2. The Losers
    Getty Images

    The Losers

    Thibaut Courtois:

    Courtois was slated to grab his usual starting spot in goal, but suffered a left leg injury in the warm-up. The extent of his knock hasn't been revealed, but reports suggest that the goalkeeper hurt his adductor muscle - an issue that could keep him out for weeks if it's serious. His back-up, Andriy Lunin, was serviceable and had admittedly little to do, but losing Courtois is a big blow for Real. The Belgian is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and has kept them alive countless times over the last few years. Los Blancos have a number of key games coming up, highlighted by a Champions League knockout tie with Liverpool, and will hope to have their No.1 back by then.

    Marco Asensio:

    Asensio has generally improved over the last few weeks, his development highlighted by a wonderful strike to give Madrid the lead over Valencia in midweek. But he blew his chance on Sunday, seeing a penalty saved by Predrag Rajkovic midway through the second half. And in a 1-0 loss, it served as the defining moment. The winger turned in an otherwise unremarkable performance, a poor showing that could define Madrid's season.

    Carlo Ancelotti:

    Ancelotti has made this Madrid team successful by lack of intervention. They win so much because the players don't necessarily need a rigid structure. But when injuries hit, the cracks start to show. On Sunday, it was the lack of Benzema that really hurt. Ancelotti insisted on deploying Rodrygo as a false nine, an experiment that hasn't worked for some time, and the Brazilian couldn't really decide where he was playing. First, he dropped deep, then he stayed high. Next, Ancelotti made the decision to hand an out-of-form Fede Valverde a start. The Uruguayan perhaps needed a rest, and looked lost for long stretches. Chances are, the legendary manager will piece things together once Benzema and co. return. Until then, things might get tricky.

  3. Real Madrid Ratings: Defence
    Getty Images

    Real Madrid Ratings: Defence

    Andiry Lunin (6/10):

    Thrown into the XI at the last minute after Courtois was injured in the warm-up. Unlucky to see a deflected header loop in. Was otherwise a spectator.

    Dani Carvajal (6/10):

    Back in the side after a couple of weeks off, and needed a while to grow into the game. Crucial in stopping some late Mallorca counter-attacks.

    Nacho (6/10):

    Very unfortunate to concede an own goal. Redeemed himself with some nice recoveries and tidy passing.

    Antonio Rudiger (6/10):

    Didn't have much to do with Mallorca opting for a mostly defensive structure. Missed a last-minute header that would have seen Madrid escape with a point.

    Eduardo Camavinga (7/10):

    His manager admitted that he doesn't like playing full-back, but Camavinga's one-on-one defending is good enough for him to be a regular there. Ironically looked less effective when moved to a central role.

  4. Midfield
    Getty Images


    Fede Valverde (5/10):

    Really needed a day off, but was thrown back into the fold. Yet another poor showing.

    Aurelien Tchouameni (7/10):

    Offered much-needed defensive cover and controlled the midfield. Madrid looked far less convincing without him.

    Dani Ceballos (6/10):

    Did a lot of dirty work, but didn't offer much of a creative spark.

  5. Attack
    Getty Images


    Marco Asensio (5/10):

    Missed a penalty and didn't really impact the game otherwise.

    Rodrygo (6/10):

    Played in the "Benzema role", but is an entirely different footballer from the Madrid captain. Much improved when moved to a wide position.

    Vinicius Jr (7/10):

    Turned in a classic Vinicius performance: lots of nice moves and winding runs. But without his best mate Benzema up front, Vini sometimes looks lost in the final third.

  6. Subs & Manager
    Getty Images

    Subs & Manager

    Luka Modric (6/10):

    The usual pretty stuff, but didn't offer much of consequence in his 30 minutes.

    David Alaba (6/10)

    Ancelotti will be glad to have him back, but Alaba's delivery was poor.

    Toni Kroos (6/10):

    Tried to whack one in and missed badly.

    Mariano Diaz (6/10)

    Offered a more direct threat and made some things happen. Might be worthy of a starting spot next time out.

    Carlo Ancelotti (5/10):

    Went for an interesting XI, benching both Modric and Kroos while also entrusting Camavinga at left-back once again. His insistence on deploying Rodygo as a false nine is puzzling at this point. Really needs to find a way to get some sort of consistency out of his side.