Valencia and Real Madrid played a very intense game -- for lack of a better word -- to start this new year. While some could say that Valencia were just fighting for every ball, others, and also the referee, considered that they were just dirty. There were some very questionable calls for and against both teams, but Valencia fans should not be complaining about most of their yellow cards.
Real Madrid earned the lead soon when Cristiano Ronalodo converted an obvious PK in the 10th minute. The match was just starting though, as Valencia's tough tackles and constant complaints to the referee reached yet another level. Isco failed to control the tempo of the game in Real's favor, but it's also true that Valencia's interruptions didn't help. Ancelotti's men were lucky to reach half-time with the lead. Marcelo and Ramos were caught sleeping 20 second before the whistle, and that gave Andre Gomes a good chance to equalise, but his shot hit the post.
The last 45 minutes did not start much better for Real Madrid. Barragán equalised thanks to a deflected shot by Pepe. There was nothing Casillas could do about that shot, and it should not be called a lucky play for Valencia as it was very similar to the one that saw Gomes hitting the post.
It could have gotten much worse, as Isco carelessly passed the ball to Ramos and allowed Negredo to steal it and have a good chance to score. He failed, but 10 minutes later, Otamendi did not and Valencia earned the lead off a corner-kick. Real's woes in these plays were apparently solved, but here they are again.
Real Madrid rushed things quite a lot after Valencia's goal, and Barragán soon had the chance to increase his team's lead. Luckily enough for Madrid, his shot went wide in what possibly was Valencia's biggest scoring chance. Real Madrid's thin bench cost Ancelotti a good shot at the game. The Italian decided to introduce Khedira and Jesé for James and Bale. If Real Madrid needed goals, it seemed odd to see Bale leaving the game with 20 minutes to go.
Valencia had all under control and reasonably decided to park the bus and let the clock run. Chicharito was Ancelotti's last bullet, something that speaks for Real's bench. With Valencia's defensive line under their own goal, Real Madrid needed something more than Cristiano Ronaldo's long-range shots to break Nuno's defensive wall. Jesé tried his best through Real's right wing, but Valencia's defensive coverage was perfect.
Isco had a good chance to equalise on the 85th minute, but his header ended up right on Diego Alves' path.
One could say that Ancelotti made this game his priority instead of Wednesday's clash against Atlético, but the players did not perform that way at all. Their lack of intensity allowed Valencia to score the equaliser when Real only needed one more goal to put the nail in the coffin. In the end, Real were probably unlucky and deserved at least one point out of this one, but it just wasn't meant to be.