After drawing three matches in a row, Real Madrid returned to winning ways by securing a 3-0 victory in the south of Madrid in Getafe. Here, we look at three questions that were answered by this performance and at three fresh questions that this match produced.
1. Could Real Madrid avoid another slow start to a new year?
Real Madrid haven’t usually hit the ground running after the Christmas holidays, at least not in recent years. Only once in the past five years have they started the new calendar year with a victory, a 3-0 win over Sevilla during the 2016/17 season. In 2015 they started with a 2-1 loss to Valencia, in 2016 with a 2-2 draw against Valencia, in 2018 with a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo and last year with a 2-2 draw against Villarreal. This year, though, Los Blancos did open their account for 2020 with a victory. They’ll be happy to have avoided a repeat of the slow starts of previous years, while Zinedine Zidane is simply content that this stat has been overcome. “We started the year well after everyone always telling us that we start badly,” he said in his post-match press conference.
2. Who would win the set piece battle?
Getafe are known to be a dangerous team from set pieces and it was going to be interesting to see how Real Madrid would cope whenever Getafe had a corner or freekick. You could tell that Real Madrid were concerned about Getafe’s potential from dead ball situations based on Luka Modric’s devastated reaction to conceding a freekick in a very dangerous position early in the first half. Yet Real Madrid did a really good job of nullifying Getafe’s threat from these situations. More than that, it was actually Real Madrid who managed to score a couple of goals from set pieces. In the absence of Sergio Ramos, it’s especially impressive that Real Madrid won the set piece battle.
3. Why wasn’t Valverde starting?
Fede Valverde has done enough so far this season to prove that he deserves to be a starter for Real Madrid. That said, there will still be occasions when it makes sense to play the Modric-Casemiro-Kroos trio. This game surely wasn’t one of them, though. Against a physical and intense team like Getafe, Valverde’s energy would have been useful. There were so many moments where Modric was shoved off the ball and you have to think that this wouldn’t have been the case with the Uruguayan. When Valverde did come on, he took over the game. And, of course, he produced that brilliant run and pass late on to set up Modric for the third goal of the afternoon.
1. Will Courtois start getting the praise he deserves?
Thibaut Courtois’ first season at Real Madrid was disappointing. But the Belgian has been impressive throughout 2019/20 and his performances in recent weeks have been worthy of praise. That praise hasn’t been forthcoming, though, as the shot-stopper has still been one of the most scrutinised players in the Real Madrid squad. In fact, the first moment many in the Spanish media praised Courtois for was his header to set up the equaliser at Valencia last month. He deserves to be commended for his actual goalkeeping as well and his performance against Getafe proved that once again.
2. When will a forward not named Benzema score a goal?
“The goals from Varane today showed that we have lots of resources to score.” This was a comment from Zidane after the match, as the Frenchman painted the two set piece goals as a positive. It must, though, be a concern that Real Madrid are still struggling to score from open play and that their forwards not named Karim Benzema aren’t taking their chances. There have been just eight goals this LaLiga season from Real Madrid’s other forwards – two for Gareth Bale, two for Rodrygo, one for Eden Hazard, one for Luka Jovic, one for Lucas Vázquez and one for Vinícius. Yet none of these six players has scored a league goal since October. There have been 16 goals scored by Real Madrid since then, but none of them by the club’s other forwards.
3. Can we stop comparing Mendy and Marcelo?
It’s tempting to compare Ferland Mendy with Marcelo since they’re the two left-backs of Real Madrid, the left-back of the future and the left-back of the past decade. These direct comparisons need to stop, at least in their current format. We’ve all seen by now that Mendy and Marcelo are two very different types of full-back, so like-for-like comparisons are futile. Mendy is a defensive-minded left-back. Marcelo is an attack-minded left-back. They’re not trying to be the same kind of player, so let’s stop comparing them as if they are.