MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 08: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid CF in action during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Valencia CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 8, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
In a gritty, well fought game, Real Madrid wasn’t able to score a single goal to advance past Valencia and score three more points for La Liga. FC Barcelona is now only four points behind Mourinho’s team with just seven games left to be played.
Jose Mourinho decided to start Higuaín, Cristiano Ronaldo, Özil and Benzema, and neither one was accurate enough to go up against a great performance by Valencia’s goalkeeper, Vicente Guaita. The first half was very even, but Real Madrid turned things around in the second and completely dominated the game.
Real Madrid lacked some control from their midfielders against Valencia. Khedira and Xabi Alonso didn’t play well. The Spanish player was man-covered all night long by Valencia’s Tino Costa. Unai Emery chose to play a three-man midfield with Mehmet Topal, Dani Parejo and Costa, and Valencia was able to create some very dangerous opportunities during the first half.
But it was Cristiano Ronaldo the one that had the first scoring chance after his stroke hit the post in the seventh minute of the first half. Real Madrid’s midfielders let Valencia counterattack a lot and the game was pretty much broken during the whole first half. The match was clearly right where Emery wanted it, because Valencia also had some very good chances to score.
The most obvious one came after a good shot by Costa which Casillas stopped but left right where Ricardo Costa was standing. The Portuguese defender only had to push it inside with his head but also hit the post.
Benzema and Higuaín weren’t mixing great. The French player was creating a lot of plays from the right wing, but the Argentinian player was invisible through all the first 45 minutes. Mourinho saw the exact same thing and introduced Ángel Di María instead just before the second half started.
Di María was the catalyst Real Madrid needed to dominate the game a little bit more. He received the ball in the second half’s first minute and delivered a good assist to Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Portuguese’s shot was deflected by Guaita. The Valencian goalkeeper had a great night overall and did one of the best stops of La Liga after a great stroke by Di María. The path of the ball was moving away from Guaita but he still managed to touch it and send the ball away from danger.
Mourinho also decided to substitute Khedira. The German player didn’t play well, Real Madrid was dominating and he also had a yellow card, so Kaka was the man that joined the game instead.
Mesut Özil played very poorly, just like Marcelo. Real Madrid’s third and last substitution introduced Jose Callejón in the right wing for Özil. The German did a couple of good plays but failed at delivering the last pass to Real Madrid’s strikers.
The last minutes were a monologue from Real Madrid. Valencia refused to fight for the win and only had another very good chance some minutes before when Tino Costa’s shot hit the post. At the end of the game, when Madrid was dominating more, Piatti also had the chance of facing Iker Casillas, but the Spanish goalkeeper stopped his shot and allowed Real Madrid to keep attacking.
It should be noted that the referee was once again disgraceful for Real Madrid’s interests. Cristiano Ronaldo had a good chance when he faced Guaita but one of Valencia’s defenders touched his foot and brought him down. It should have been a red card for Valencia’s defender (he was the last man) but the referee let the play develop.
In the game’s last play, Marcelo crossed the ball and Cristiano Ronaldo was once again fouled inside the box when he was trying to reach the ball and convert, but the referee didn’t see that neither.
But the 0-0 draw between Real Madrid and Valencia was not the referee’s fault. Madrid played quite well and only Vicente Guaita’s amazing performance prevented them from getting the three points. Now the team will visit the Vicente Calderón this Wednesday to play against Atlético Madrid and show they can compete for la Liga.
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