Valencia Vs Real Madrid, Liga 2013-2014: The Supporting Cast Day (2-3)

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso

Real Madrid managed to get a victory in Mestalla, in a very complicated match against Valencia. Our team did not play well, and the defense was horrible at certain phases of the game, but the goals scored by Di María, Ronaldo and Jesé sufficed to obtain the three points and keep the distance with Barcelona and Atlético.

We won and holidays have finally arrived. These are, basically, the only good news we can obtain from Real Madrid's performance today in Valencia. Although we started in a good shape and Di María's goal seemed to make justice, the intensity of our game was reduced drastically and we ended up suffering a lot to win the match. Taking into account Valencia's current state -poor output in the last games, their coach just sacked, etc.-, this is, in my opinion, unacceptable.

There were no surprises in our lineup. Nacho and Di María were chosen by Ancelotti to occupy the spots of Pepe and Bale, who could not play today. Nevertheless, the system was a little different than the one we are seeing lately. Cristiano, out of fit, started in a more centered position than usual, relegating Isco to an undefined role between the left wing and the hole. This was good in the beginning, since Valencia's defenders did not get to understand these changes pretty well and, after a couple of chances by Ronaldo, the Fideo's goal arrived. He started in the right wing, dribbled and scored a beautiful goal.

Our happiness did not last too much, however. A good action by Bernat in the left wing, arguably today's best Valencia's player, ended up with him avoiding Di María's defense and crossing the ball to the box, where Piatti, faster and smarter than our uncoordinated centerbacks, achieved to score with a good headbutt. It is remarkable to notice the different heights of Piatti and Ramos, who was marking him and tried to cut the ball with the foot instead of the head. The action was horrible and, in their first approach to our box, Valencia had tied the game.

Luckily enough, we could overcome this and, five minutes later, Ronaldo managed to score a new goal. It was a beautiful cross by Di María in a free kick that Ronaldo, slightly in an unnoticed offside position, could hit with his head to put the 2-1 in the scoreboard. The only good action by Ronaldo today, who was not as precise with the ball as he was before his injury, supposed his 17th goal in this league to make him equalise with Diego Costa as the league top scorer.

After the break, Valencia increased their intensity and we seemed not to notice. They started to control the ball and link offensive actions. Isco and Di María started to disappear and only the tremendous performance of Luka Modric could sustain our midfield. He was the only one to understand that the match had changed and his good job, with and without the ball, was truly remarkable. This was not enough, though, and Valencia's goal ended up arriving after a corner kick that Matthieu headed, again, against Ramos' bad oposition.

The situation was critical now. There were thirty minutes left and we needed a win to stay alive in the league. Ancelotti was fast enough to make the substitutions and let Jesé and Carvajal in for Isco and Arbeloa. This was the winning move, in my opinion. Valencia's best weapon so far were Bernat's races in the left wing, where our midfielders could not arrive in many ocassions. The entrance of these two, together with Di María's shift to the middle, helped to sharpen this side of our attack, so Valencia would need to concentrate in defensive tasks.

In fact, the winning goal arrived in this way. Both Jesé and Carvajal built a good play in the right wing that Valencia's defenders managed to clear. Modric got the ball and, after attracting five oponents towards him, found Jesé alone again to his right. His shot misled Guaita and supposed the final 2-3.

It was a good result in a poor match, and we will need to fix many things during the Christmas break if we don't want Barça and Atlético to enlarge their advantage and make it impossible to us to catch them. But this will be in two weeks time. Now, we'd better be glad of this good result and enjoy the holidays with the hope that everything will be better after the Christmas break.

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