Real Madrid secured a narrow and scrappy 1-0 win against Real Valladolid in their first home game of the new season. Their second victory in a row moves the defending champions up to third in the table.
But it wasn’t the hosts who created the first opportunity. Valladolid front-man Shon Weissman had a shot on the swivel with Raphael Varane out of position, but Madrid got lucky that he mistimed his effort.
Down the other end, Zinedine Zidane chose Luka Jovic and Karim Benzema up-top in consecutive games, and Jovic started the game better than his senior strike-partner. The under-pressure Serbian carried the ball past a few defenders before cutting it back to Marcelo who’s shot was blocked by former Madrid player Javi Sanchez. From the rebound, Fede Valverde’s volley destined for the bottom right corner was smartly saved by Roberto Jiménez.
Then Jovic was the focus once more. An unbelievable counter attack led by Luka Modric, who passed to Isco, who found Valverde on the right-wing, and the Uruguayan’s flash across the box was on a plate for Jovic, who eventually fired it over the bar.
From the sidelines, Zidane didn’t appear too happy about the performance though. It lacked adventure, intensity and the energy all over the park, with Valverde and Jovic being the main men. After the break though, they did move through the gears. Jovic produced an even better save from Roberto this time, and from the follow-up, Casemiro’s shot smashed the bar.
The visitors had their own chances on the break, Weissman forced a huge save from Thibaut Courtois, when his defenders had given up around him. Then, Zidane made the changes. On came Marco Asensio, Vinicius Junior and Dani Carvajal, and the difference was almost instantaneous.
Asensio dribbled past five men on his way from one wing to the other, and passed to Vinicius, who immediately caused chaos in the box. Valverde and Benzema combined for the ball to somehow find its way to Vinicius off a Valladolid defender, and the Brazilian tucked it in without needing an invitation.
Once again on the counter attack, Madrid may have killed the game. Asensio started it, but Benzema took an age to let go of the ball, and his final ball was frustratingly short of Vinicius as the move ended. From the resulting goal-kick, Roberto threw the ball straight to Modric, who took a touch before seeing his effort come back off the post.
And in a game where Madrid could have probably scored three or four had they been more clinical, it was fitting that it was rounded off with yet another opportunity. Vinicius was through one-on-one on the break, but his effort fell tamely into the hands of Roberto, fortunately it was the final kick of the game.
Another three points for Madrid, who have seven out of nine to begin their title defence. Not the worst start to the campaign, but Zidane will be concerned at the lack of a clinical edge, and of course, the fresh injury to a season-changing player in Eden Hazard who will now miss 10-15 further days of action.
Up next for Real Madrid?
Who? Levante CF
When? Sunday 4th October @ 16:00 (CEST)
Where? Estadio de la Cerámica