Anybody glancing at the result of Real Madrid’s final match of 2023, a 1-0 win over Alaves, won’t have the full story – it was actually one of the weirdest games we’ve seen in a while.
Alaves had looked on course for an impressive point against their illustrious opponents, especially Nacho was shown a straight red card for a foul on Samu Omorodion.
But Madrid secured a dramatic victory in stoppage time when Lucas Vazquez headed in a Toni Kroos corner to secure the three points.
The sheer injustice of events was too much for Luis Garcia Plaza to handle. The Alaves manager took his frustration out on a nearby drinks cooler, kicking and tipping the innocent item over in a fit of rage.
Garcia was then spotted shaking one of the Alaves substitutes like a ragdoll as he reacted to the universe marching up to him and kicking him in the testicles.
That was before slowly removing his coat and throwing it onto the turf in frustration like the star performer in a Home Counties staging of Hamlet.
Perhaps Garcia’s frustration came from his temper tantrum being destined to be overshadowed by the latest example of Antonio Rudiger’s sheer strangeness.
Rudiger is one of our favourites at Planet Football, less for his impressive performances than his dedication to pushing the boundaries of normality at the expense of opposition strikers.
Whether it’s his Monty Python tribute during an actual World Cup match to sticking his head under Erling Haaland’s armpit and grabbing the cheeks of Sergio Ramos, the defender will stop at nothing to unnerve his temporary enemies.
And the Germany international took inspiration from the school playground as Madrid looked to thwart their Basque opponents on a chilly evening.
Engaged in a physical battle with Omorodion, Rudiger felt his opponent backing into him and knew desperate measures were required to prevent this chippy upstart gaining the upper hand.
Treating the Alaves forward like the least popular kid in his primary school class, the 30-year-old got down on his knee and bent behind his opponent.
Confused and disorientated by what was happening, as if transformed into Sam Tyler arriving in 1973, Omorodion was stopped in his tracks and sent a baffled gaze in Rudiger’s direction.
The pushing and shoving quickly continued, but we desperately needed Jude Bellingham to complete the honours and send Omordion tumbling over Rudiger’s torso.
— neo media (@Iesommer) December 21, 2023
Rudiger’s physical approach was praised last season after his peculiar antics stopped Erling Haaland from scoring a triple hat-trick during their Champions League semi-final.
Internazionale’s Alessandro Bastoni later revealed his side had studied Rudiger’s defending before last season’s European final, seemingly unaware that the Madrid defender’s weirdness can never be replicated.
It certainly helped Madrid keep a clean sheet in Vitoria-Gasquez last night, earning them three precious points that sent Carlo Ancelotti’s side back to the top of La Liga.
If Madrid are to fend off Girona’s fairytale challenge for the league title, then we expect Rudiger to get even weirder as the season progresses. We cannot wait.
By Michael Lee