Real Madrid thrashed Valencia 5-1 on Saturday, in a game that got off to a perfect start with Dani Carvajal’s third-minute goal. A brace from Vinícius and another two from Rodrygo allowed Real Madrid to secure a manita against Los Che, and means we have a lot of talking points to discuss.
1. Would Vinícius shine on what was a big night for him personally?
Given what happened at Mestalla at the end of last season, this was obviously a very important fixture for Vinícius personally. You knew he’d be determined to shine and to get on the scoresheet. So, would he? Yes, and he scored not once but twice. The Brazilian looked sharper in front of goal than he has for most of the season and it was timely that his first brace of 2023/24 came against this opponent.
2. Could Brahim continue thriving in the Bellingham role?
With the news coming before kick-off that Jude Bellingham would be out for this game too, that meant Brahim Díaz would be back in the Bellingham role. His two starts before this game had come against Las Palmas and Braga and had come in games when the Englishman was out and when the Spaniard was filling in. He’d done well both times, so could he thrive again here? Well, even though this was a big victory, it was the quietest of Brahim’s three starts so far. He was still absolutely fine when he got on the ball, but this wasn’t his most effective outing, and it didn’t have to be given how good Vinícius and Rodrygo were.
3. How would the defence hold up without Rüdiger?
This was the first LaLiga game this season that Rüdiger didn’t play in, as the German was suspended. Given how good he has been in Militão’s absence, you wondered if this would be a big loss. And, the truth is that, despite the 5-1 scoreline, Real Madrid’s defence did look porous at points on Saturday night. The xG in this game was just 1.75 to 1.71 in Real Madrid’s favour, which says a lot about the clinical finishing of Los Blancos and the poor finishing of Valencia, of Hugo Duro in particular. Having Rüdiger back for the next matchday will be most welcome.
1. Ancelotti said this was the best performance of the season. Was it?
After the game, Carlo Ancelotti described this win as “the best performance of the season”. Was he right? It was the joint-largest victory, along with the 4-0 Osasuna win, but, as the aforementioned xG numbers point out, the gap between the two teams wasn’t as large as the scoreline might suggest. If this wasn’t the best performance, then which was? Osasuna at home? Girona away? Napoli away?
2. Can Carvajal beat his single season scoring record?
Dani Carvajal got this game up and running in the third minute, netting his second goal of the season. Not since 2013/14, his first season back at Real Madrid, has Carvajal scored more than one goal in a single campaign. And, never has he scored more than two goals in a season, even going back to his Castilla days. He’s already on two goals this term, so one more means he’ll set a new single season scoring record. And, Carvajal believes the new system can help him achieve this. “I have more freedom to get up front with the 4-4-2, that freedom makes me closer to the opposing half,” he said on Saturday night.
3. Does the international break come at a good time or a bad time?
Real Madrid now have 15 days without a game, as they next visit Cádiz on November 26th. Does the November international break maybe come at a bad time for Los Blancos? With Vinícius and Rodrygo starting to build form and chemistry again, is this a frustrating time to put the brakes on? Or, does the fact that there are so many injuries right now mean that two weeks with no games is a positive to allow Kepa, Tchouaméni and Bellingham to recover?