Good afternoon and welcome to Sports Mole
's live commentary of the La Liga clash between Real Madrid
from the Bernabeu. Madrid will be looking to return to winning ways this afternoon after losing at Valencia on Wednesday night. Los Blancos are still third in the table, but now sit five points off second-placed Atletico Madrid and 13 points behind leaders Barcelona entering Week 31. Eibar, meanwhile, currently occupy 11th spot in the division and will enter this match off the back of a 2-1 home win over Rayo Vallecano. Stay tuned for the action!
REAL MADRID: Navas; Odriozola, Varane, Nacho, Reguilon; Isco, Valverde, Modric; Asensio, Benzema, Bale
EIBAR: Dmitrovic; De Blasis, Ramis, Oliveira, Cote; Escalante; Leon, Alvarez, Jordan, Cucurella; Enrich
Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has made five changes to the team that started against Valencia last time out, with Nacho, Sergio Reguilon, Isco, Federico Valverde and Gareth Bale coming into the side. Sergio Ramos is left out altogether, while the likes of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez have dropped to the bench. Very interesting team selection here!
As for Eibar, the visitors are still without injured centre-back Pedro Bigas, while midfielder Papa Diop is suspended for the Basque club. Head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar had no fresh injury concerns from the team that beat Rayo on Wednesday night, but Joan Jordan and Sergi Enrich both return to the starting XI. Kickoff at the Bernabeu is now just moments away!
KICKOFF: Real Madrid kick things off on home soil...
... some nervy moments in the Madrid defence early on as Eibar push high up the field. Varane almost loses it inside his own box, but the home side ultimately manage to clear their lines.
Zinedine Zidane started his second spell in charge of Madrid with back-to-back victories over Celta Vigo and Huesca. Confidence would have been high at that point, but the team's problems were once again shown on Wednesday night when they suffered a 2-1 defeat at Valencia. The hosts have not started very well here, meanwhile, as Eibar continue to push forward.
CHANCE! Huge chance for Bale to make the breakthrough as the Welshman races into the Eibar box, but he is denied by the away side's goalkeeper and then hooks wide from the rebound!
There is no question that Zidane has improved the mood since returning to the Bernabeu, but there is also no getting away from the fact that this is a squad in desperate need of a revamp. Los Blancos reportedly have a huge transfer budget this summer and big-name signings are certainly needed if Madrid are to be challengers for the major trophies next season.
Nine defeats from 30 La Liga matches this term is just not good enough for a team of Madrid's ilk. As it stands, they are 13 points off leaders Barcelona and as mentioned, five points off second-placed Atletico. Los Blancos will not finish lower than third, but they would have been keen to secure the spot behind Barcelona. Still goalless with 10 minutes on the clock here.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Benzema turns a low Bale cross into the back of the net, but the flag is raised!
The fact that Madrid also have the worst defensive record in the top six is telling, while even the likes of Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad and Eibar have conceded fewer league goals than the European champions this season. Zidane's side have been nervy at the back early on here!
CHANCE! Huge chance for the away side this time as Cucurella delivers a wonderful cross into the Madrid box, but Enrich just cannot make contact. Really should have scored!
The fact that Madrid are not involved in the Champions League at the quarter-final stage is a huge disappointment. There might have been a Copa del Rey final to fall back on, but Barcelona ultimately beat Madrid 4-1 on aggregate to ease into the final of the competition once again.
Big changes will need to be made next season, but for now, Zidane will just be concentrating on returning to winning ways. The home side have been dangerous early on here.
Nine wins, 12 draws and nine defeats - that is how Eibar have performed in the league this season. A total of 39 points has left them in 11th position, but a point here would take them 10th. Madrid are currently the team on the front foot with 18 minutes on the clock here.
This is actually Eibar's fifth straight campaign in the top flight of Spanish football; they finished 18th, 14th and 10th in their first three seasons at this level, before posting ninth last term. It does appear that Los Armeros will finish around that position again, which would be seen as a huge success. Good spell of possession for the visitors in the last few moments here.
YELLOW CARD! Oliveira (Eibar) is booked for blocking Asensio.
With a stadium that holds little over 7,000, it is still difficult to believe that Eibar can compete at this level of football. Until Huesca qualified for the top flight last term, Eibar were widely regarded as the smallest club to have played in La Liga. Still goalless with 23 minutes played here.
Four of Eibar's last five away league matches have finished level and the Basque outfit will fancy their chances of picking up a result here based on the opening 25 minutes of action.
Good spell of possession for Eibar in the last few minutes, but they are struggling to test Navas between the sticks. Not too much from Madrid down the other end, though.
Eibar recorded a 3-0 victory in the reverse match back in November, with Gonzalo Escalante, Sergi Enrich and Kike on the scoresheet for the home side, who were excellent. That said, the Basque side have lost 3-0, 4-0 and 3-0 on three of their four trips to the Bernabeu in the league.
SHOT! Bale strikes harmlessly wide of the away side's post.
It is a tough period of the season for Eibar as they face Madrid, Sociedad and Atletico in their next three league fixtures, before taking on Huesca and Valencia in their final two games of April. A top-six spot is still very much open, though, and they have been impressive here.
Navas has to palm clear a cross from Cucurella as Eibar continue to threaten from the wide positions. Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining and the score is level here.
Nine defeats from 30 La Liga matches this term is just not good enough for a team of Madrid's ilk. And they have not exactly been inspiring in the first 36 minutes of this match.
Little over five minutes of the first period remaining and not too much is happening at the moment. Both teams are having spells in possession without really threatening to score.
Just a reminder that the top two are in action tonight as Barcelona welcome Atletico to Camp Nou. I shall also be bringing you coverage of that one so be sure to return tonight!
GOAL! REAL MADRID 0-1 EIBAR (CARDONA)
Oh my word! Eibar take the lead in the 39th minute as Cardona chips the ball over Navas after being found by Escalante inside the Madrid box. Huge moment in this match!
Whistles from the home supporters as we approach the half-time break here.
Not an awful lot happening at the moment with Eibar extremely comfortable.
HALF TIME: REAL MADRID 0-1 EIBAR
Safe to say that the home fans are not very pleased! The two teams head down the tunnel with Eibar leading 1-0 courtesy of a smart finish from Cardona. Madrid have had their moments in the final third, but have found it very difficult to get going. More problems for Los Blancos!
STATISTICS! It is 50/50 in terms of possession here, but Madrid have had two shots to Eibar's one. Bale had a brilliant early chance for Los Blancos, but Eibar scored with their only attempt on target. Just the one yellow card, with Oliveira picking up a booking in the 21st minute.
BENCH WATCH! Eibar have the likes of Charles, Kike and Pedro Leon on what is a very attacking bench. Madrid, meanwhile, have options in the shape of Casemiro, Diaz, Ceballos, Kroos and Lucas. Will Zidane decide to make any alterations at the interval here?
KICKOFF: Eibar resume the action here...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is a bit of a surprise. Madrid have a lot of attacking talent on their bench this afternoon and alterations appear necessary here.
SAVE! Modric hits one from distance, but it is a comfortable save for the Eibar stopper.
Madrid have been on the front foot since the start of the second period, but Eibar will fancy that chances will arrive on the counter-attack if they can continue to defend well here.
Cardona almost breaks free inside the Madrid box once again, but Odriozola just about does enough to make the clearance. Madrid are living very dangerously at the moment.
CLOSE! Good defending from Ramis to deal with a low cross from Odriozola as Madrid threaten out wide. Eibar then break through Cucurella, but Enrich ultimately heads over the crossbar.
EIBAR SUB! Eibar make a substitution as the injured Ramis leaves the field for Orellana.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Controversy! Benzema scores to make it 1-1, but the referee blows for an offside which had been spotted earlier in the move. The replays show that it was the correct call!
VAR is having a look, and calls for the offside.
Little over 30 minutes of the second period remaining and Madrid are still behind here.
GOAL! REAL MADRID 1-1 EIBAR
And there is the leveller! Benzema heads a Asensio cross into the back of the net to level the scores at the Bernabeu. Big final 30 minutes or so now!
SAVE! Asensio sees his strike saved by the Eibar goalkeeper as the pressure continues!
Bale has again been poor for Madrid and it would not be a surprise to see the Wales international replaced in the next five minutes or so. Madrid need so much more from him.
Far from a full Bernabeu this afternoon, but there is a decent noise inside the stadium and the home fans are behind their side as we head for the final 20 minutes of action here.
Eibar are having loads of the ball at the moment as they threaten in the final third.
Madrid break forward and Modric delivers from a wide area towards Isco, but Eibar manage to clear their lines once again. Still no movement on the home side's bench at the moment.
The ball falls for Benzema on the edge of the Eibar box, but the striker wants far too long and Alvarez is across to make the challenge. Still 1-1 with 72 minutes on the clock here.
It's really good defending from Cote as the Eibar full-back challenges Odriozola as the Spaniard was threatening to break into the box. Change for away side coming here...
... EIBAR SUB! Cardona is replaced by Pena.
Eibar are defending very well at the moment, but the amount of pressure that they are coming under must be a concern. Little over 15 minutes remaining in the Spanish capital.
Still no sign of movement on the Madrid bench. Bale continues to struggle!
MADRID SUBS! Kroos and Lucas replace Bale and Modric.
Madrid are the team on the front foot, but Eibar are not afraid to commit players when they break and it would not be against the question to see the visitors grabbing a second here.
GOAL! REAL MADRID 2-1 EIBAR (BENZEMA)
Just had to be him didn't it? Benzema is having a stunning campaign and the striker has just headed a Kroos cross into the back of the net to make it 2-1 to the home side here!
Little over five minutes of the second period remaining and Eibar look very tired.
EIBAR SUB! Cucurella is replaced by Charles for the away side.
CLOSE! Asensio cuts inside before just sending a powerful strike over the crossbar!
SAVE! Super save from the Eibar stopper to prevent Benzema from scoring a third!
CHANCE! Wow! Benzema somehow misses an open goal after terrible goalkeeping from the Eibar stopper. Not quite sure what happened there, but that is some miss!
REAL MADRID SUB! Isco is replaced by Diaz for the home side.
We are into the second of five additional minutes at the end of this match.
Madrid are really threatening a third here, but somehow cannot convert once again, with Benzema missing a chance to score a third. Eibar have about one defender at the moment!
Varane makes a really important clearance as Eibar deliver into the Madrid box.
FULL TIME: REAL MADRID 2-1 EIBAR
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Madrid running out 2-1 winners courtesy of a second-half double from Benzema. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again. See you next time!