Courtois and Vinicius spare Madrid's blushes

Real Madrid are still playing like a team in pre-season. And I am not saying this because Zidane is experimenting with his side. I say this because most of his players are far from peak fitness. Most teams are still in pre-season, although some, in the case of Valladolid, started back a little earlier. Valladolid are a good team, by the way, and they don't have their squad for this season finalised yet. Sergio González has kept them in the first division on a tight budget, and this year, which is going to be better in that respect, could see him move them up the table. Last night, his side tested Madrid at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano.

SOCCER-SPAIN-MAD-REV/REPORTSoccer Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid v Real Valladolid - Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Madrid, Spain - September 30, 2020 Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Sergio Perez

So much so that Madrid's best player was Courtois, who made two fine saves, the kind that if the move ends in a goal, the goalkeeper cannot be blamed. The same can be said for Roberto in the opposition goal, who also stood tall, only conceding to a close-range effort from Vinicius, who in an advanced position, pounced on a double rebound in the Valladolid defence, to finish off a move that he had started himself. He had not started the game and Zidane is not overly keen, of course, but from what I see game after game is that of all the forwards Zidane plays near Benzema, the one that does most, time and again, is Vinicius.

Last night, it was Jovic's turn to accompany Benzema, and it must be said that he was better than on previous days. He no longer seemed like a clueless tourist, but an attentive battering ram, although without having much luck. Two chances went begging, and the other, a header, was superbly denied by Roberto. Hazard got injured on Wednesday afternoon, and will be out for four weeks, they say, which means that he will not be available to play with Belgium. We'll keep waiting for the Hazard that was. In the meantime, Madrid push on. Thanks to Courtois and Vinicius they sealed the victory, but there is still plenty missing.