Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 June 2020

Gareth Bale left on the bench as Real Madrid end campaign with 12th league defeat

Second-half goals from Loren Moren Jese Rodriguez see Real Betis win 2-0 at the Bernabeu as Real Madrid finish third in La Liga

Real Madrid's miserable season ended on a fittingly sour note as they lost their final La Liga game of the 2018/19 season 2-0 at home to Real Betis.

Madrid fans left the stadium early as Zinedine Zidane's side slumped to a 12th league defeat of the season, and those who stayed booed the players off the pitch.

Zidane had hinted in his pre-match press conference that Gareth Bale would take to the field at some stage for what was being billed as his last match for the club, but the Welsh forward remained glued to his seat on the bench alongside what could be other high-profile departures in Toni Kroos and Thibaut Courtois.

"The best thing for us is that it's over and we can think about next year," Zidane said afterwards. "Because things will change, for sure."

Loren Moren broke the deadlock on 61 minutes, completing a sweeping counter-attack by slamming the ball into the roof of the net from close range.

Former Madrid forward Jese Rodriguez sealed the victory on 75 minutes for Betis, who finished the season 10th in the table with fond memories of a campaign that saw them triumph at both the Camp Nou and the Bernabeu.

As the Madrid players saluted the fans at the end, they were greeted by a chorus of whistles.

By then, Bale was already off down the tunnel, perhaps aware that any attempt at a farewell could be given an even colder reception.

"I'm sorry, I didn't give Bale minutes today," Zidane said. "But I don't know what's going to happen, I have to make decisions based on today and the match."

Having returned to the helm only in March, Zidane will not be held culpable for most of Madrid's failings this season, including finishing third in La Liga, 18 points behind Barcelona, although Barca could extend that tally in their final game against Eibar on Sunday, and eight adrift of Atletico Madrid, not to mention crashing out of the Champions League in the last 16 to Ajax.

He will also not be blamed for their league total of 68 points, their lowest in 17 years, nor the 12 defeats. Real Madrid have not had more in a single league campaign since 1974.

But even if few expected the deep-rooted problems to vanish after Zidane's return, most Madrid fans would have hoped at least for signs of improvement.

Instead, they have now won five of his 11 games in charge this season and out of the last five have won one and lost three including defeats to Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad.

Some of the displays, including this one, however, were as bad as anything seen under either Julen Lopetegui or Santiago Solari this season.

"There are no excuses," Zidane said. "It has been difficult from the start of the season and now at the end with me. That is the reality."

He has promised change over the summer and many in his squad could leave such as goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who was the subject of several affectionate chants during the game, as well as Nacho, Sergio Reguilon, Isco, Marcos Llorente and Bale.

"I don't know if it's the last game for them or not, I don't know what's going to happen. Keylor played well but we'll see what happens next season," Zidane said.

If this was to be Bale's last appearance after six seasons, in which there have been numerous injuries but several trophies too, including four in the Champions League, it seemed a sorry way not to say goodbye.

Betis announced after the match that they would part ways with manger Quique Setien.

Updated: May 19, 2019 06:23 PM



Most Popular