Real Valladolid lost 1-0 to Real Madrid (Nacho). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, post-game quotes, and plenty more.
This weekend opened with the stars aligning in Real Madrid’s favour. Despite recording a heartwarming moral victory in the possession stats, Barcelona dropped their first points of the Quique Seiten era with a 2-0 loss to Valencia while Atletico Madrid have continued to struggle with finding the goal and drew 0-0 with Leganes earlier today. This domino of results provided Real Madrid with a unique chance to take advantage of their rivals failings and go clear at the top of the table.
Zidane opted for a five man midfield with Nacho filling in for the suspended Dani Carvajal. Fede Valverde was dropped to the bench and Rodrygo was given the start out wide with Karim Benzema alone up top.
Tonight's starting XI!#RMLiga | #HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/waAaPR9W0Q— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) January 26, 2020
As has been a recent theme with Real, chances were in short demand during the first half. It had seemed that they had gotten off to the perfect start when Toni Kroos 30-yard free kick found the head of Casemiro, however, a VAR review found the Brazilian midfielder a few millimetres offside. Outside of that disallowed opener, there was precious little to report on the first 45 with both sides having just one shot each.
Zidane made no changes in the second half, however his words clearly made an impression as Rodrygo quickly earned Madrid’s first shot on target after cutting into the box on the counter attack. Los Blancos continued to show signs of improvements in the second half, however, it wasn’t until an Isco free kick midway through the second half that Madrid threatened the goal again. A Karim Benzema header whizzed narrowly wide just a few minutes later before the game returned to the midfield battle we saw in the first half. Lucas Vazquez came on for Isco in the 73rd minute, switching the formation to a 4-3-3. Five minutes later, the Spanish winger won a corner which Nacho scored from with a precision header.
⚽ Nacho gets the goal Real Madrid have been looking for!— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) January 26, 2020
⚪ Zidane's team are no on course for a BIG win in the title race pic.twitter.com/yqdqLM3PYT
Some herorics were required in the final 10 minutes to secure the result. Mendy got in front of Sergi Guardiola to stop a sure goal while VAR’s stickler nature on the offside rule came to rescue to rule out a Valladolid equaliser in added time. In truth, Real Madrid got away with one against Valladolid, they were poor for much of the match and will have to improve if they intend to keep their lead at the top of the table. It was overall a hard game to watch, not only because of the quality of the match but also because news of the tragic death of Kobe Byrant broke minutes before kick off, shocking the sporting world. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.
Managing Madrid will break this game down more in the coming hours.