𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐥 𝐌𝐚𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐝 𝐕𝐒 𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐥 𝐕𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐝𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐝 | 𝟏-𝟎 | 𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐎𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 & 𝐓𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐀𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐲𝐬𝐢𝐬
Coming into the game, Real Madrid knew that this was a very crucial moment in regards to their pursuit of regaining the league title. With Atletico Madrid having dropped points to Levante yet again, the hopes of defending the title from last season seem a lot more feasible than they did a few weeks ago. It goes without saying that the upcoming Madrid Derby on the 7th of March will be a make-or-break for both Simeone and Zidane's men.
From a tactical standpoint, Real were below mediocre in the first half of the match, lacking any sort of cohesion in the final third without Benzema, while the defence looked shaky on a couple of occasions. However, Tibo Courtois came up big on several occasions, making one important world-class save after another. This man was simply on another level, and didn't put a foot wrong in the whole match.
Coming to the midfield, Casemiro spurned two great opportunities to put his team ahead in the first 45 minutes. Being so good in the air, you wouldn't have expected him to miss both of them. Although, third time was the charm for him as he finally put the ball in the net via a beautiful Toni Kroos freekick. Once again, in the absence of Ramos (and Benzema) he stepped up and delivered when it mattered the most. Defensively, he was rock solid as usual, dropping deep and stopping several counter-attacks. It's now 6 goals for him in all competitions this season, wow! Modric looked visibly tired, having played game after game this season. Kroos meanwhile, continued his recent great form, adding another assist. The criminally underrated 'German Sniper' is probably the best midfielder in the whole of Europe right now! It's fair to say that it's the midfield trio whose winning Zidane games right now.
However, coming to the front three, with Benzema injured, Zidane was left with little choice other than to start Mariano. It was clear for all to see how important Big Benz is to the team and just how much the team missed him. Mariano tried hard but he ain't no Benzema. The team sorely missed the Frenchman, with him generally being the anchor between the midfield and the front line. Mariano had two goals chalked off for offside (no debate there, he was clearly offside on both occasions).
On the right wing, Marco Asensio had another frustrating night, unable to open the Valladolid backline. He was unable to deliver key passes, slow on the break, and as has been a theme in recent times, looked to play the ball safe instead of taking on his man. Vinicius Jr. on the opposite flank was average too and got substituted along with Asensio. Neither of them were terrible, but not at the level expected of wide forwards at a club like Real Madrid. Asensio especially, has been very sub-par this season. With rumours of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe rife, Asensio has got until the end of the season to deliver or else it could very well be his last season at the most demanding club in the world.
Nevertheless, this win was well-earned. The team needs to keep grinding out results from this point onwards, no matter how or what. Lapses in concentration can't be afforded anymore, if the club is to win any trophy this season. Next up, the all important UCL RO16 game against Atalanta on the 25th of February!