Vinicius becomes the face of Madrid’s changing fortunes
Luck certainly does exist, because Madrid’s display against Valladolid was as lukewarm as any that had gone before, and they still won. On this occasion, it was down to the other side to hit the woodwork and down to Madrid to score through an own goal after a couple of slices of luck. That, coupled with a penalty at the death, was enough for them to take all three points. Yet it could have so easily seen them lose and they could now be wandering through and inspecting the wreckage, with Solari singed and charred only four days into the job. This is a win that offers some kind of hope and means Florentino can keep leaning on Solari while he looks for someone to accept the electric-chair dugout he continues to offer around.
The same line-up... the same issues
There were no great surprises in a Lopetegui-esque line-up: Bale-Benzema-Asensio in attack; Modric-Casemiro-Kroos behind them; Isco playing the waiting game; whoever was available in defence because of a long injury list; Courtois in goal. This was how Madrid set out to breach a Valladolid side who were impressively robust. The first half was clogged and cluttered, and the only thing that brought any semblance of a smile was watching Odriozola and Reguilón pushing forward. The other players were too stodgy in their play, particularly Bale and Asensio – nothing new there – and the Welshman was on the receiving end of whistles much of the time.
The first change was an eyebrow-raising one: Casemiro, who was not best pleased as he walked off, was replaced by Isco - but replacing Casemiro? After that Lucas and Vinicius came on for Asensio and Bale, and the game began to take a different shape - with no midfield it started to resemble a free-for-all. What happened after that was that Valladolid rattled the crossbar twice, keeping the game tied, before Vinicius sent in a hopeful, innocuous ball that hit Kiko Olivas and flew into the net. The youngster celebrated as if the goal were his own and all of a sudden became the face of Madrid’s changing fortunes – so much so, that when Madrid were awarded a penalty many called for the Brazilian to take it and gave Sergio Ramos some stick for stepping up.