It seemed all so easy 10 days ago when Real Madrid were 10 points ahead of their bitter rivals Real Madrid with 12 games to go. The question was when would Madrid win the title, not if they would.
But the pressure of winning the title might be getting to Jose Mourinho and his Real Madrid side as they drew for the second consecutive game tonight, a result that leaves them only six points ahead of Barcelona in the table.
It all seemed to be going as planned for Real Madrid against Villarreal at El Madrigal when Cristiano Ronaldo’s finally unlocked the Villarreal defence. Ronaldo gathered the ball on the left flank, danced inside, burst into the area to collect Mesut Özil’s clever back-heeled return pass and rounded the goalkeeper to score.
In control and with a one-goal lead Mourinho seemed content to let Madrid soak up the Villarreal pressure and that tactic backfired when Villarreal equalised through Senna with 10 minutes to go. The veteran midfielder’s strike exposed a weakness in the Real wall, which collapsed as one and deflected the ball past the helpless Casillas.
Mourinho, believing that the free kick should never have been awarded in the first place, made his feelings known to the referee and was sent to the stands, barely 15 minutes after a similar fate had befallen his assistant Rui Faria.
Discipline was a problem on the pitch for Real Madrid also, as Ramos was next to go; a high tackle on Nilmar earning him a yellow card to add to one from earlier in the half. Ozil was sent off just seconds later for dissent.
The draw was a huge result for Villarreal as it moves them four points clear of the relegation zone, while dropped points are giving Barcelona hope that they can still retain their title this season.
Elsewhere, third-placed Valencia shockingly lost 2-1 at home to bottom club Real Zaragoza, who surprisingly boosted their survival propspects despite losing Pablo Álvarez to a 20th-minute red card. Levante are now within three points of Valencia after their fourth win from five league games with a 2-1 triumph at Real Sociedad.