Real Madrid succumbed to a stunning 3-0 defeat at Eibar as Santiago Solari’s reign as permanent head coach got off to a torrid start on Saturday.Having taken over from the sacked Julen Lopetegui following the 5-1 Clasico drubbing at the hands of Barcelona, Solari showed early promise with four wins from four in his interim tenure.That run was enough to earn the former Madrid midfielder a deal through to June 2021, but his fortunes will have to improve drastically if he is to have any hope of remaining in the Santiago Bernabeu hotseat until then. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! Gonzalo Escalante’s scrappy opener saw Madrid fall behind for the first time under Solari, and the writing was on the wall with quickfire goals early in the second period through Sergi Enrich and Kike.The shocking defeat capped a tough 48 hours for the club, who on Friday released a statement to deny accusations made by Der Spiegel that captain Sergio Ramos had broken anti-doping regulations on two occasions in the past.Ramos and the rest of the backline were soon under pressure, Thibaut Courtois producing a wonder-save to tip Kike’s dipping 30-yard volley onto the post, before Karim Benzema was denied on the line by Cote.After 15 minutes of frenetic action, Eibar broke the deadlock as Barca loanee Marc Cucurella surged down the left and squared for Kike. His attempt was brilliantly kept out by Courtois but Escalante managed to bundle the ball home from inside the six-yard box.5 – Real Madrid have only attempted five total shots in the first half against Eibar, the lowest figure they have recorded at halftime in a single all competitions game under Santiago Solari. Clog. pic.twitter.com/bj9F4gzCYy— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 24, 2018And shortly after the restart, the European champions’ woe worsened.Toni Kroos played a poor pass across the defence to Alvaro Odriozola, who dallied on the ball, allowing Cucurella to steal in and tee up Enrich for a low finish inside the left-hand post.Five minutes later, the game was effectively put beyond a desperate Madrid as Cucurella whipped in a low cross that took a touch off Enrich and ran perfectly for Kike to tap into an empty net from five yards to seal Eibar’s first ever league win over their illustrious opponents.What does it mean? Solari under the pump immediatelyThings could hardly have gone worse for the new head coach. One defeat in isolation is far from disastrous, but the manner of such a loss was concerning. Leaders Barca could be seven points clear of Madrid by the end of Saturday.Cucurella a class aboveEscalante, Enrich and Kike scored the goals but Cucurella was the real star. On loan from Madrid’s fierce rivals, he tormented the right side of Los Blancos’ defence and had a hand in all three goals.Madrid malaise returns with a vengeanceOften under Lopetegui, Madrid looked devoid of inspiration. In Solari’s four interim games in charge, there were signs of improvement, but this capitulation was a major step back. The Bernabeu board may be wondering if they showed faith in the right man.Key Opta Facts- Real Madrid have conceded 19 goals after the first 13 LaLiga 2018-19 matchdays, their worst start in a single LaLiga season since 2008-09 (20 goals conceded).- Eibar have won their first LaLiga game against Real Madrid, Barcelona or Atletico Madrid after 26 meetings against these sides (W1 D3 L22).- Madrid had only three shots on target against Eibar, their joint lowest figure in away games across all competitions in 2018.- Thibaut Courtois has conceded 18 goals in 11 league games for Real Madrid (1.64 on average); the Belgian conceded 94 goals in 111 league games for Atletico in the competition (0.85 on average).What’s next?Madrid will seek to bounce back and secure Champions League progression from Tuesday’s trip to Roma, while Eibar travel to struggling Rayo Vallecano on Friday. read more
Heading into Oklahoma State’s Big 12 opener against TCU, Glenn Spencer’s defense has been about as good as you could expect, probably better. Through three games its allowed just five offensive touchdowns and ranks fifth in defensive efficiency (first among Big 12 teams).But there’s one key stat Spencer would like to see increase: takeaways.Entering Week 4, the Cowboys rank 27th nationally and second in the Big 12 having forced six giveaways. That’s two per game, slightly above OSU’s average of 1.92 since the start of 2013, when Spencer took over as defensive coordinator. The Cowboys are 7th among FBS teams during that stretch.Not good enough according to Spencer.“We need to be able to create more turnovers,” Spencer said. “I’d like to see us get at least three a game. We’ve dropped some interceptions. There’s some strip opportunities that we’ve missed and were a little dicier than what I’d like to see, so I’d like to see us create more turnovers.”Three would be quite a number to average for the stretch of a season. In fact, OSU has only reached it once since Spencer joined the staff in 2008. Year2017201620152014201320122011201020092008 Avg TOs Gained2.001.922.151.082.541.693.382.622.311.92 Only the historically deprivative 2011 team reached that goal with 44 total takeaways, and no FBS team has hit that total since. If the Cowboys can get close to that number in 2017, watch out.But it’s not only taking the ball away, it’s what the Cowboy defense has been able to do with the ball. Of those six, three have ended in the end zone on the same play. The Cowboys are behind only Texas (four) in defensive touchdowns so far.“We pride ourselves on that,” said senior safety Tre Flowers who hauled in his own interception against Pitt. “We try to score at practice every day, and we all always say we’re athletes, so we try to show that when we get to touch the ball. We just have to make it happen.”Flowers hasn’t made it happen, not this year. But junior linebacker Justin Phillips has, catching a deflected pass and heading into the end zone in two straight games. While Phillips will get the praise for his good hands and quick feet, it really is a team effort. It was Darrion Daniels and Chad Whitener who got their mitts in the path of the ball and made those plays possible.It’s been a part of the Spencer’s defensive philosophy for a long time and it’s not just a matter of being lucky. You have to have team speed to get to the ball and some players just seem to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Last year, it was Phillips’ predecessor at Will backer, Devante Averette who had three fumble recoveries. This year, there look to be several players with a nose for the ball.“I mean, it comes with a little bit of luck, and it comes with a lot of hard work,” said Flowers.“You have to teach them,” said Spencer “and I’m sure a lot of people are teaching it right now – but you have to teach it, coach it, stress it and make them hungry for it every snap. It’s barking and screaming at them to knock the ball out, to strip it. It’s pursuit angles. How many turnovers are created by great pursuit angles? How do we coach it? We coach it like that.”To pair with OSU’s two takeaways per game, Saturday’s visitor TCU has given away two turnovers per game in 2017. Kenny Hill has been improved in the interception department so far this year but has not faced an opportunistic defense like Oklahoma State’s. And TCU quarterbacks haven’t fared well inside Boone Pickens Stadium in recent history.Trevone Boykin had two of the worst (if not the worst) games of his career in Stillwater. In 2015, he threw one touchdown and a career-high four interceptions. Two years prior in 2013, he was held without a score and threw three picks. If the Cowboys can make Hill, who’s had his issues with turnovers in the past, relive the nightmare trips of Boykin, the chances of big win for OSU are greatly improved.If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!