Real Madrid hosted Valencia at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, which is a temporary homeground for Real Madrid, in one of the most important games of the season.
Los Blancos started the first half good, immediately threatening Valencia with a long shot from Casemiro which was saved by Cillessen. Benzema started a great attack on the left wing, and in a similar situation to the first goal against Eibar, he passed it to Kroos inside the box but the German midfielder didn’t manage to hit it properly. A great combination between Hazard, Modric and Benzema resulted in a great chance for Hazar inside the box but his shot was saved by Cillessen too, in what was the best chance of the game so far. Kroos attempted to score a long distance shot but once again, Cillessen showed his great form by saving the shot.
First real danger from Valencia came after Maxi Gomez got away from Casemiro in midfield and caught the Real Madrid defense out of position with a great pass for Rodrigo, whose shot hit the post. Valencia continued attacking and moments later managed to score a goal after a great through pass from Soler which found Rodrigo just meters away from the goal. It was a poor defensive error from both Varane and Ramos, but luckily Maxi Gomez was offside and VAR decided he did enough to interfere with the play for the goal to be disallowed.
Real Madrid kept trying to attack with combination attemps by Hazard and Benzema but they were stopped by a solid Valencia defense. Carvajal and Fede on the right wing weren’t creating a lot and were struggling offensively, but in the 28th minute Carvajal managed to get past the defense and inside the box with a great dribble, only to have his shot saved by Cillessen.
The defensive end of Real Madrid’s midfield was often time held singlehandedly by Casemiro, who was not helped a lot by his teammates and had to commit some fouls in order to stop Valencia’s attacks, risking to get a yellow card and a suspension for the next game against Real Sociedad.
Valencia were struggling to create anything offensively but in the 43rd minute, Kondogbia fired a powerful long shot from the midfield that took great effort from Courtois to be saved.Embed from Getty Images
Immediately at the start of the second half, one could see that something changed at Real Madrid’s players. They were much more intense and started to press very high and very aggressively that took Valencia by surprise. Kroos and Modric had a sublime second half, controlling, dominating, and organizing the play with their superb technical skills. The first goal came after a great one-two combination between Modric and Hazard at the end of which Hazard fought off a Valencia defender and passed inside the box for Benzema, who scored Real Madrid’s first goal of the game with a low shot in Cillessen’s bottom right corner.
Valencia was struggling to get out of their own half due to the great pressing of Real Madrid, which took a great team effort to achieve. Los Blancos were attacking left and right but could not find the second goal, despite beautiful combinations between the midfield and offense. It was the 74th minute when Asensio came back after being sidelined for 11 months with an injury. Asensio wasted no time before scoring Real Madrid’s second goal on his first touch after a great pass from Mendy. The Spanish attacker’s joy could not be hidden and the entire team celebrated his great comeback. But Asensio didn’t stop there, in the 87th minute, Casemiro stopped a Valencia attack with a great tackle just outside the box and started a quick counter-attack with Kroos, who found Asensio on the right wing with a long pass and he passed it to Benzema inside the box, where the French forward got past a defender with a great flick of the ball before scoring a lovely volley. This was one the best goals of Benzema’s career. Vinicius continued to challenge the Valencia defense with his great skills and speed and was unlucky not to score or assist.
Valencia ended the match with 10 players after a brutal series of leg chops by Kang-in Lee against Ramos.Embed from Getty Images
Zidane made adjustments and motivated his team for a great display in the second half. The legendary coach deserves a lot of praise and credit for this great second half, that reminded us of the 2017 UCL final against Juventus, where Real Madrid similarly dominated the second half.
Real Madrid got the much needed 3 points and continued the build on the positive things from the Eibar match, like Hazard’s combinations with his teammates, and managed to overwhelm Valencia with a great second-half display, led by Benzema, Hazard, Kroos and Modric. There were no reported injuries and no suspensions, which is great news before the equally important game against Real Sociedad on Sunday.