MADRID, SPAIN - AUGUST 19: Sergio Ramos reacts of Real Madrid with of Valencia during the la Liga match between Real madrid and Valencia at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on August 19, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Real Madrid)
On a warm, humid Madrid evening, Real Madrid only managed a draw against a defensive-minded Valencia CF. While Mourinho probably had Wednesday's Supercopa game against FC Barcelona on his mind, starting Lass Diarra instead of Sami Khedira was simply a mistake. This is the type of game where the German player is missed, and the team clearly improved when Lass left the pitch.
There are still 37 Liga games to be played, but being already behind FC Barcelona isn't something that any Real Madrid fan should like. And of course, this game against Valencia is much more important than Wednesday's against Tito Vilanova and his players, but Madrid might have been caught in the middle of the Clásico rivalry a bit too much.
Everything seemed to be on the right track after Di María collected his first assist of the season in the 9th minute of the game when Higuaín finally managed to beat Diego Alves. The Brazilian goalkeeper stopped Higuaín first two shots in the same play, but the ball fell right to his feet and the Argentinian winger finally profited from the lucky bounce.
Unfortunately, Valencia took the necessary courage to overcome this first goal and started to have most of the possession. Real Madrid's defense worked well and prevented Soldado and his teammates from getting close to Casillas, but once again, right before halftime, the team conceded off a lateral foul. This is something Mourinho and his staff should work around, since the team has shown no improvement in this area.
Mourinho was forced to put on Raúl Albiol--who had a very decent game--instead of Pepe before the second half kicked off. The Portuguese defender will spend the night in the hospital to have his concussion checked out, and it is not clear yet whether he will be able to play against Barcelona.
Since Lass left the field for Benzema, the team improved a lot and put Valencia's back against the wall. One can only wonder what Mourinho would have done with Luka Modric on the roster. The Croatian could really help this team a lot when the rivals are only trying to play with their defensive lines closed and tight. Modric is that kind of player that could have entered the pitch for Lass, and then Mourinho could have introduced Benzema for Di María to try launch the final offensive.
Xabi Alonso did play really well, but he is already 30 years old and might need a break to prevent a bad second half of the season for Real Madrid's key midfielder.
One way or another, this is still the first game of the regular season. With the proper adjustments, Real Madrid will be capable of fighting for La Liga BBVA once again, but making a signing could be more important than what every Real Madrid fan thought.
Who was Real madrid's Man of the Match?
Higuaín (48 votes)
Alonso (32 votes)
Di María (35 votes)
115 total votes