Real Madrid can't defend, and (sometimes) it doesn't matter

Marco Asensio celebrates his second goal in Real Madrid’s win over Real Betis. (Getty)

With a La Liga title out of reach, and only one more potential savior for a disastrous season, Real Madrid seems determined to turn every match into a video game-like shootout. There is no point in exercising caution. No argument against reckless disregard for defending. “Ultra-attacking” tactical settings are on from kickoff. And entertainment, as a result, is endless.

Sunday brought yet more entertainment, perhaps in the form of the game of the season. Madrid was up, then down, then up, then hanging on for an exhilarating 5-3 victory at Real Betis.

In 15 second-half minutes, the defending Spanish champions went from 2-1 behind to 4-2 ahead, via goals from Sergio Ramos, Marco Asensio and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Karim Benzema erased late doubt after Betis pulled back to 4-3. His goal was the 39th scored by either team in Madrid’s last seven games, an average of 5.6 per. Neither Los Blancos nor their opponents have kept a clean sheet.

They’ve conceded 12 in those seven. But it hasn’t exactly mattered, because they’ve scored a remarkable 27 and won five of the seven.

Among the five was a 3-1 victory over PSG on Wednesday in the Champions League, the only competition that matters to Real over the next three months. La Liga doesn’t. It would take catastrophe to knock Madrid out of the top four, but a miracle to lift it back into the title race.

So why not go rogue and have fun in the league? That’s essentially the approach Real Madrid has taken. It took a first-half lead through Asensio, but was facing a deficit going into halftime. Betis waltzed through the visitors’ midfield and exposed Madrid’s frailties:

But Ramos equalized with a header five minutes into the second half, and a rampaging run from Dani Carvajal set up Asensio for a second fine finish:

Ronaldo extended the advantage. Sergio Leon cut it back to one in the 85th minute:

But Benzema sealed the deal:

Betis, for its part, also struggles with the whole concept of defending. It has conceded 50 in 24 games, 12 more than last-place Malaga.

The combo of the two Reals gave us unmatched entertainment. Madrid’s quality pushed it on to three points.

– – – – – – –

Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.