Santiago Solari’s last match as Real Madrid first team manager ended as a 4-1 win in favour of his side. The team faced Real Valladolid in the aftermath of one of the most disastrous weeks in club history where they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey and Champions League. In addition, the team had suffered a devastating loss to Barcelona last La Liga match day putting them firmly behind in the title race. However, the show must go on as the saying goes. Real Madrid travelled, accompanied by their suspended captain, to Castile.
Faced with a barrage of injuries/suspensions, Solari made a number of rotations such as including Ceballos, Nacho, Asensio, and Odriozola in the starting XI. The team was setup in the standard 4-3-3 but functioned (in a structural sense) somewhat differently due to Ceballos’ profile (i.e. not a typical winger).
Real Madrid face early onslaught as Valladolid miss a penalty
The home side began with significant energy and pace placing pressure on Real Madrid. In particular, they repeatedly targeted Real Madrid’s moderately high line looking to access the space behind the defensive unit.
This directly led to the first major threat the hosts posed during the match. In the 11th minute, Valladolid’s Nacho played a looping ball from deep to Oscar Plano who raced in behind Odriozola. The right back couldn’t make up the distance and used his hands to bring down the forward in the box — resulting in the referee pointing to the spot.
Valladolid also took advantage of disorganization in the center of the park to create other chances. Notably, Ruben Alcaraz easily bypassed a frail and disjointed midfield to generate numerical superiority and ultimately cause the goal that was written off in the 13th minute. The hosts would have another goal written off in the 18th minute thanks to an offside call.
Valladolid eventually got on the scoreboard around the half-hour mark when they again targeted Real Madrid’s questionable high line. Keko swung in a sweeping cross to the far post that was met by Guardiola who assisted Tuhami.
Tuhami’s movement in the leadup to the goal disoriented Real Madrid’s marking assignments. Casemiro, initially trailing the forward, let him go. Varane adjusted but in doing so left Guardiola in no man’s land as Odriozola was already occupied.
Real Madrid’s stale offense ignited by Odriozola’s overlaps
Real Madrid struggled to click offensively as Ceballos’ profile meant he couldn’t participate in an equivalent manner to when Vazquez or Vinicius are fielded. The Spaniard’s movements are less attacking focused and instead geared towards ball circulation. On the right side, Asensio and Odriozola couldn’t instigate either as overall activity on the wings was fairly limited.
Modric and Asensio began floating and operating centrally which added some dynamism to the blank action on the ball. This allowed the team to utilize the triangular rotations which have become somewhat of a feature under Solari to create space on the wings. One such sequence led to the corner in the 33th minute from which Varane scored the equalizer.
Odriozola’s overlaps continued to trouble Valladolid as his pace allowed him to act as an outlet for players in advanced positions. In the 51st minute, he used his speed to latch on to a Ceballos pass just before a defender made contact with him. The referee called for a penalty which Benzema converted.
Benzema and Modric’s goals give Real Madrid win in chaotic second half
Prior to Benzema’s penalty, Valladolid had persisted with targeting Real Madrid’s defensive line with quick transitions and long ball deliveries early in the second half.
Benzema’s penalty, however, was quickly followed by a headed goal from a corner and a nifty solo effort from Modric. This essentially put the game to bed despite more opportunities arriving for both teams. In the mix of all this, Casemiro received a second yellow and was given his marching orders making it the first time the Brazilian has been sent off in a Real Madrid shirt.