Sunday's bite-sized chunks of latest Real Madrid news following their unconvincing win over Valladolid on Saturday.
A tough side
Relieved after an unimpressive, laboured win that momentarily eases the pressure, Madrid’s interim coach talked post-match about patience, perseverance and never giving up, and also sang the praises of his opponents: “Valladolid are a compact team that give very little away. They hadn’t lost for seven games and are a proper side”. He was also quick to dampen down the growing expectation and hope surrounding Vinicius, particularly after the Brazilian changed Madrid’s fortunes after coming on: “He’s 18 and people will have to make their assessments over the next couple of years. He’s another player in the squad, with his strenghts and weaknesses”.
The young Brazilian is rapidly becoming a favourite among the Bernabéu faithful and against Valladolid did his chances of regular first-team football no harm at all, making an instant impact and scoring – albeit with a large dollop of luck. Asked to go through his goal, he said: “When I took the ball I was already thinking of shooting after going through three players. I counted to three before striking it with power”. Perhaps the rest of the Madrid attack should start counting to three before shooting.
Reguilón was another positive from a more-questions-than-answers performance from Madrid. The left-back was a constant threat down the wing, asking for the ball constantly and sending in a number of fine deliveries.
Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois was more than happy with a clean sheet - unsurpisingly because he was beaten twice but saved by the woodwork - and stressed how changes of personnel were nothing new and mean you have to step up: “I’ve had similar experiences. At Atlético with Manzano, at Chelsea Mourinho… The coach always pays the price but we’re all responsible. I don’t think anything has changed. We’re giving it everything".
The same mistakes
Despite the sliver of optimism creeping in over Vinicius and a precious win, this season's shortcomings were plain to see again. Solari still has to iron out certain tactical flaws and that sense of vulnerability they still possess. Madrid only found fluidity in their play on the wing, primarily through Reguilón – 64% of their attacks came on the flanks. Bale, Benzema and Asensio simply didn’t gel and link up, which was remedied when Vinicius came on the scene. Madrid also failed to stop Valladolid from gaining ground and creating chances, and neither tactic of using Casemiro or a 4-2-3-1 worked.