Home comforts lacking again as Madrid stunned by Brugge

Real Madrid's late rally against Club Brugge might save them from an embarrassing group-stage exit in the Champions League but the fear factor at the Santiago Bernabeu has been lost and will take longer to recover.

Brugge exploded out of the blocks on Tuesday night with two goals in the first 39 minutes and when the nerves fluttered in the second half, they came from defending their lead rather than any sense of inferiority.

"There are no small teams anymore," said Zinedine Zidane after the match. "In the Champions League anyone can beat anyone and if you don't play well, you get into trouble."

The 2-2 draw, salvaged after two headers from Sergio Ramos and Casemiro, leaves Madrid without a victory from their opening two group games for the first time ever and needing to win away at Galatasaray later this month, a fixture awkwardly timed four days before the Clasico at Camp Nou.

Yet Madrid's fate in Group A may depend too on home games against Galatasaray and then Paris Saint-German, given their record in front of their own fans can no longer give them cause for comfort.

In Europe, they were torn apart on their own turf by Ajax in March, a 4-1 defeat sending them out in the last 16 and spelling the end of Santiago Solari's brief tenure as coach.

They have now gone 12 months without winning at home in the Champions League, having previously gone four years, between 2011 and 2015, without a single defeat.

In La Liga, Madrid have played three games this season at home, including a draw against Real Valladolid and a nervy 3-2 victory over Levante in which Levante scored twice and almost snatched a draw in the second half.

Last season, they lost eight games at the Santiago Bernabeu in all competitions, their worst record in 23 years. Only once since 2010 had they previously lost more than three in a season.

That came the previous year, when they lost five under Zidane, and when Cristiano Ronaldo was still at the club.

- Frustration -

Ronaldo's departure to Juventus has almost certainly erased some of the intimidation opponents once felt but his absence is not the only problem.

When Zidane returned in March, he was adamant that La Liga would be his team's priority this term, that Madrid needed to get back to the "bread and butter" of domestic consistency.

Yet they will need the backing of the fans, who are already venting their frustration at the players.

Thibaut Courtois, who joined Madrid from Chelsea last summer, has still to win over the supporters, many of whom were fiercely loyal to his predecessor Keylor Navas.

Zidane claimed illness was the reason Courtois was substituted at half-time against Brugge but he also had been whistled by Madrid fans shortly before the interval.

"He is the Real Madrid goalkeeper, along with Areola," Zidane said. "Everyone can give an opinion and I won't go into that but Courtois also wants to do well."

Enthusiasm is more likely to come from inspiration in attack.

Last season, Vinicius Junior's surge into the limelight offered some much-needed relief in the stands and if Eden Hazard finds form, he could transform the mood too.

But Hazard was poor again against Brugge, sluggish in his runs and lacking the usual zip that takes him away from opponents.

"I am honestly fine," Hazard said on Monday. "It is true people expect a lot from me and I expect a lot from myself. I know I can do better. There will always be criticism but I am fine and I hope to deliver in the next few matches."

Victories will be the key. Madrid host Granada on Saturday and then travel to Real Mallorca. After that come Galatasaray and Barcelona.

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