On September 14, Real Madrid lost in La Liga to local rivals Atlético Madrid. It was their second-straight defeat, and, at the time, many were wondering if their squad had the right makeup to compete for the La Liga and Champions League titles. After that loss, they rattled off 22 consecutive wins in four different competitions, topping a hard Champions League group and winning the Club World Cup in the process. On Sunday, that winning streak was snapped by Valencia.
The Mestalla has always been a difficult place for Madrid to play, even when Valencia are not at their best, so Sunday's La Liga match always had a bit of upset potential. Los Che are in excellent form in the league, and have moved up to fourth with this win, just five points behind Real Madrid.
Madrid took an early lead in the game and looked to be well on their way to another win. Alvaro Negredo was whistled for a handball in the box in the 13th minute and Cristiano Ronaldo converted the resulting penalty, but Valencia fought back in the second half. Right wingback Antonio Barragan scored a deflected goal in the 52nd minute and Nicolas Otamendi notched the winner with a brilliant header off a 65th minute corner.
If friendlies are counted -- and they shouldn't be -- Madrid actually had their winning streak snapped on December 30. In an exhibition game against AC Milan in Dubai, Los Merengues fell, 4-2, but it wasn't a result that many felt was indicative of either team's quality. Madrid treated it like a warm-up match, but it's a performance that looks a bit different in this new context.
During their 22-game winning streak, Madrid scored an astonishing 81 goals, allowing just 10. They only allowed two goals in one of those wins and recorded 13 clean sheets. They still have lots of work to do to capture any of the three major trophies they're still contending for, but this streak was a remarkable accomplishment, nonetheless.