Head to the League

A header by Casemiro, the saves by Courtois and the wisdom of Modric leave a bad Madrid three points behind the Atlético leader. Valladolid deserved better luck.


Madrid lay three points behind the Atlético leader. Good news that will cost him to explain, a triumph with a great goalkeeper and no strikers, three points that came out to meet him with no other merits than the all-terrainism of Modric and Casemiro. And so, almost without believing in it, when he only expected the Champions to cleanse him of sins, the wave returned him to the League, an extra life for when he ceases to be a half team due to injuries. Valladolid did what they had to and not even with that it reached them.

The thing in Madrid, because they were badly given, began with the usual ones and has led to those that exist. Zidane decided, seeing the narrowness of the back room, repeat to the point of exaggeration with the good guys. Now he is satisfied with the healthy ones (eleven from the field, minimum services). And among them are not the three tenors of the squad: Ramos, Hazard and Benzema. Character, fantasy and efficiency, the holy trinity. Impossible not to accuse him. So much mishap has allowed Vinicius to climb from very bottom to top and, above all, Mariano, who from fourth nine has gone to first when Mayoral and Jovic fled and Benzema was injured. Joining the team is not a change of parts, it is putting a concrete mixer in the area where there used to be a Rolls. With the little the team produced, their efforts were useless.

Salvador Courtois

Valladolid is also full of casualties and short on points, but is used to death row. Not so much with Sergio, who made him cross the shore three years ago and has kept him without tachycardia in the last two seasons. But now he tightens the rope and the coach chose to shelter the team with a fifth midfielder and take the company of Sergi Guardiola. In his head was that Madrid has indigestible this season with teams that proposed little and closed a lot. Cádiz or Alavés had been able to make him lose patience first, then discipline and, finally, points.

However, the line-up said one thing and the team, the opposite, because to the initial attempt by Madrid to lower the temperature of the duel, Valladolid responded with a mad rush. In one minute, Courtois had to make three stops, the first and third, regulation, shot by Orellana and Alcaraz; the second, miraculous, by Janko's shoe. Madrid came out as if nobody had told them the result of Wanda, as if the League was as far away as two weeks ago. The team seemed to be infected with that climate that the week of Champions has generated, with that Haaland or Mbappé that, like bicycles, are for the summer; with that living in the future with the present still sleeve for shoulder.

Two goals disallowed

Valladolid had more football and more hunger. Orellana took care of the first, whose character has spoiled part of his career but who, at 35, still has plenty of ability. From the second, the will of the team to press up, to go to all disputes, to withdraw with order against the Madrid cons. Two ended in Mariano and a goal, but with the striker clearly out of play both times.

However, Modric was the hand that rocked the game with that wide repertoire that he manages: he is capable of accelerating and braking, of going off with a jog or keeping the ball. A good baton in a poorly tuned orchestra, because Asensio still does not know if it is opera or zarzuela and because Vinicius still does not specify what he begins. Madrid's best opportunity was a classic and a premonition: Kroos's center and Casemiro's high header. More than ever, Zidane is in the hands of his midfielders, all of whom are good but none are truly successful, the kind who offer the plus of ten or twelve goals per season.

The matter did not improve at the start of Madrid. Little presence in the field and sporadic slaps from Valladolid. The most notable, a clamorous error by Mendy that put a volley to Orellana on a plate. The Chilean spliced violently, but without any positioning. He went to the doll and the doll did not move.

Always Casemiro

Sergio understood that the situation invited us to go further and for that he put Jota, a funny footballer, for Janko, an exterior of muscle. Madrid not only traveled already unarmed but also disoriented, without the ball with which they had defended themselves more or less in the first half. Zidane interpreted the same thing, that there he did not go far and threw what little he had: Isco, the fallen angel, and the subsidiaries Arribas and Hugo Duro. And when he was about to renew his attacking trio, the classic came back: another Kroos thread from set pieces and Casemiro's providential header, chopped and crossed. Lethal. A goal without warning, in the middle of the desert.

The new ones gave Madrid one more point of possession, due to Arribas' mobility, while Valladolid took the final tremendously, with Weissman and Kodro, two cradle finishers already in the game.

But the goal had changed everything. Valladolid found it harder to propose and Madrid less to protect itself, the most salvageable part of a dark night. A triumph, in short, to cheat time while recovering health.

Photos from as.com
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