Real Madrid played one of the most bizarre matches in recent memory on Sunday night and came out of it with a 4-1 defeat. The main talking points from that loss to Valencia are discussed below.
1. Would this be another action-packed night at Mestalla?
100 percent, this was as crazy a game as it was expected to be. Real Madrid fans often wonder “why is it that Valencia really step it up against us?” and, while I have no answer to that, it is true that Los Che always seem to relish the fixtures against the team from the capital. That always makes for some entertaining matches, like last year when there was the late Thibaut Courtois corner incident for a Karim Benzema goal in a 1-1 draw. Considering there was also 100th minute drama as Valencia drew at home to Getafe last week, many expected this would be another action-packed night at Mestalla. And it really was, with so many VAR decisions and, frankly, odd moments. From a farcical own goal to a retaken penalty as Carlos Soler set off on his way to a spot kick hat-trick, this game had it all.
2. How much would Real Madrid miss Casemiro?
It was announced the day before the game that Casemiro and Eden Hazard had tested positive for COVID-19 and that they’d miss this trip. A lot of the focus was on Hazard because that was the juicier headline, but the more concerning absence was always going to be Casemiro. The Brazilian hasn’t had his best season so far, but he’s still the anchor of this team and there’s no natural replacement for him. Since he can’t really be replaced, the logical assumption coming into the game was that Fede Valverde and Toni Kroos could work together to manage that area of the pitch, but the German didn’t start for reasons only Zinedine Zidane will know. Although Valverde worked hard along with Luka Modrić and although they did a good job at the start, Real Madrid just aren’t the same without Casemiro. You’d rather have Valverde able to push up and attack like he had been doing in recent weeks. So, let’s hope Casemiro is fully cleared and back for the first game after the international break.
3. Would Martin Ødegaard play?
Martin Ødegaard hadn’t played since the October international break, but he was back in the squad and available for this one. So, would he play? Well, he didn’t start as it was Isco who was selected to float just behind Karim Benzema from the beginning. But, Ødegaard did come on in the 64th minute, just after Carlos Soler had made it 4-1. Officially, he was substituted on for Vinícius, but he actually occupied the spot on the right flank that Marco Asensio had vacated when he went off for Rodrygo also in the 64th minute, with Rodrygo the one taking Vini’s spot on the left. With limited time and just 26 touches, it’s hard to judge the Norwegian’s performance. We’ll have to wait until after the international break to properly get another look at him. In the meantime, as Zidane said in his pre-match press conference, let’s just hope he returns from international duty 100 percent.
1. Why would you rest Mendy now?
Marcelo started ahead of Ferland Mendy and the reason has to be related to rest and rotation. There can be no other reason for picking the Brazilian ahead of the Frenchman for this game and the task of going up against an in-form and lightning quick Yunas Musah. Marcelo wasn’t as poor in this match as he has been in others and technically got an assist on Benzema’s goal, even if the No.9 still had it all to do when he received that pass. But, Marcelo in defence is just not as good as Mendy and it’s puzzling that he watched the entire game from the Mestalla bench, especially because Mendy hasn’t been called up for France’s November squad. He’ll be nice and fresh after this rest, then, for two weeks of zero fixtures. It’s a head-scratcher.
2. Will Benzema be back when club football is back?
Besides the result, another worrying moment for Real Madrid came with the injury suffered by Benzema. The striker had to be substituted off for Mariano as he suffered a muscular issue in his left leg. It didn’t look good as Benzema hobbled off, but at least there is an international break coming up. Real Madrid’s next match isn’t until November 21st when they visit Villarreal. There could be sufficient time for the No.9 to recover, but it all depends on what the exact injury is and how serious it is.
3. When will we next see three penalties called against Real Madrid in the same match?
This is the 90th season of LaLiga and Real Madrid have been present in every single season so far. Yet, this is the first ever time that Real Madrid have had three penalties called against them in the same league game, according to Spanish football stats man Mister Chip. Will this happen again? And when? Perhaps in the era of VAR, it won’t take another 90 years of top flight football for this to occur once more.