Valencia 1 - 0 Real Madrid (Lopez). Here’s our quick reaction at the final whistle. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, stats review, post-game quotes, and plenty more.
In a big game — mostly for Valencia — at the Mestalla this evening, Real Madrid fell 1 - 0, and the result, coupled with Atletico Madrid’s 3 - 0 win over Osasuna earlier today, means that Carlo Ancelotti’s men drop to third place in La Liga.
Ancelotti opted to rest some of the starters who played in the Manchester City bloodbath. Rodrygo Goes, David Alaba, Dani Carvajal, Fede Valverde, Luka Modric, and Toni Kroos all were left out. Ferland Mendy took the left-back slot, while Eduardo Camavinga joined Aurelien Tchouameni and Dani Ceballos in midfield.
It was not an easy game for Ancelotti’s men. Valencia, fighting off relegation, were aggressive from the start. Real Madrid struggled to get the ball to the attackers, and Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema were heavily marked. Marco Asensio tucked quite central, and Real didn’t have much width, as the midfield and attack for the most part played quite narrow.
In the 33rd minute, Ferland Mendy had a defensive lapse, where he kept Valencia’s initial build-up onside before failing to mark Diego Lopez at the far post:
Ancelotti made a change at half-time: Rodrygo Goes for Eduardo Camavinga. It’s possible that Camavinga’s substitution at half-time was pre-planned, but regardless, Rodrygo’s introduction did provide some more width, and two of Real Madrid’s best chances in the second half came at the feet of Rodrygo in the right half-space.
The second half was strange, filled with tension, and unfortunately overshadowed by disgusting racism spewed from the fans at the Mestalla.
Mid-way through the second half, after a strange incident where Valencia defender Eray Comert kicked a second ball which was in play at Vinicius Jr to stop a dangerous attack, an irate Vinicius was seen. And, the unfortunate twist with his anger was that it was not directed at a ridiculous play from Comert, but rather to the crowd, where there was something racist that was said to the Brazilian.
The referee stopped the game for several minutes, and there was an announcement made in the stadium to stop the racist abuse.
They have announced in the stadium that if the racist words continue the game will be suspended— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) May 21, 2023
And, just when you thought things had slightly calmed down. A brawl ensued from an off-ball incident, and, strangely enough, the only person who was punished in the whole ordeal was Vinicius Jr, who received a direct red card for a hit on Hugo Duro, who had put him in a chokehold prior to the decision:
VAR missed this shot, apparently. pic.twitter.com/ddEFqrgk3E— Lucas Navarrete (@LucasNavarreteM) May 21, 2023
Explain it to me like i'm 5:— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) May 21, 2023
How was Vinicius Jr the only one punished in that brawl?
As he left the field, Vinicius gestured to the fans at Mestalla that they were going down to Segunda, which then sparked the Valencia bench to get up and continue the brawl. The scenes were quite ugly.
From a football perspective, Real Madrid piled on the pressure late — even deep into the 17 additional minutes of injury time. Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili made three incredible saves. Real Madrid — in particular Antonio Rudiger — dealt well with Valencia’s counter-attacks.
The aftermath from this contest is far from over. There will be lots La Liga and the referee will have to answer to.