Real Madrid responded to their Clásico humbling with a crucial 2-1 win in Vigo on Saturday evening. Karim Benzema converted two of three penalties to take the three points, which reopens Los Blancos’ cushion at the top of the standings. The performance was poor, and that’s concerning with Chelsea coming up, but the most important objective here was to return to the capital with the win. That has been achieved and now it’s time to look at three questions that were answered and three new questions this game produced.
1. Would Ancelotti’s absence bring any change in tactics?
Carlo Ancelotti’s positive COVID-19 test meant he wasn’t in Vigo for this game. Even if he was still the man in charge of planning this encounter, would we see any differences without the veteran coach in the dugout? Well, no, not really. Even if this seemed like the perfect game to use a four-man midfield with Fede Valverde, it was 4-3-3 once again and Celta Vigo largely knew how to handle this.
2. Would Kroos run the show against his favourite victim?
Toni Kroos has relished this fixture over the years. For whatever reason, he sees red when everyone else sees sky blue. In 13 LaLiga Santander meetings with Celta Vigo, the German has scored six goals and produced four assists, turning in world-class performance after world-class performance when facing the team from Galicia. He missed the 5-2 win against them earlier in the season, so how would he do here? Well, this wasn’t his most impactful performance ever, but mostly because he wasn’t allowed to get on the ball as much. When he did have it, he did what he always does by progressing it well, even if on this occasion he didn’t find the back of the Celta net.
3. Would we hear from Davide Ancelotti?
With Ancelotti unavailable for this match, there was no pre-match press conference ahead of the game. Even though his son Davide Ancelotti has given press conferences before, the club decided not to put anyone up for media duties on this occasion. So, would we hear from him after the game? Or from Abián Perdomo, who was technically the coach named in charge for this match? No, we didn’t, as Real Madrid also cancelled the post-match press conference.
1. Were the four big refereeing decisions the right ones?
When Pablo González Fuertes is the referee, weird things are going to happen. That’s just the way it goes and there were four main decisions in this game. There was the Celta Vigo goal that was disallowed for an offside Iago Aspas’ interference and there were the three penalties: Nolito on Éder Militão, Jeison Murillo on Rodrygo and Kevin Vázquez on Ferland Mendy. Were the decisions the right ones? That’s a debate that’s going to be had all weekend in Spain.
2. Had Real Madrid ever been awarded three penalties before?
Real Madrid fans also know what it’s like to have three penalties given against their team, as it happened just last season against Valencia. But, had Los Blancos ever been given awarded three penalties in the same game? The answer to that is yes, as this was the fourth game in the history of LaLiga Santander in which Real Madrid took three spot kicks, although the last time this happened was back in 1957/58, curiously also against Celta Vigo. The other two times when Real Madrid had three penalties in the same league game were vs Espanyol in 1935/36 and vs Valencia in 1951/52.
3. Can Vinícius Tobías play already?
Once again, one of Real Madrid’s main weaknesses was at the right-back position. Neither Lucas Vázquez nor Dani Carvajal could stop Javi Galán and Nolito, who both had standout afternoons for the Galician side. This is a problem position and that’s why the signing of the 18-year-old Vinícius Tobías is so welcome. He’s at Castilla for now, but can he get involved in first-team training ASAP? Because any kind of right-back competition is necessary.