Valladolid 0-1 Real Madrid: result, goals, summary
Valladolid vs Real Madrid: as it happened
Valladolid 0-1 Real Madrid: match report
A heavily depleted Real Madrid continued their pursuit of LaLiga leaders Atlético Madrid with a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to struggling Real Valladolid on Saturday to move within three points of their city rivals.
Brazilian midfielder Casemiro got the breakthrough goal in a cagey game by heading in a free kick from Toni Kroos in the 65th minute, making amends for missing the target with free headers in either half.
The champions were without top scorer Karim Benzema and an additional eight players due to injury but did just enough to notch a fourth consecutive victory and take full advantage of Atlético's 2-0 defeat at home by Levante earlier on Saturday.
Madrid remain in second but moved on to 52 points after 24 games, with Leti leading the standings on 55 with a game in hand. Barcelona, who play at home to Cádiz on Sunday, are third on 46 points.
Valladolid went into the game without a league win since 2 January yet they made the brighter start and had two chances in an instant to take an early lead, but neither Fabian Orellana nor Saidy Janko were able to beat Real keeper Thibaut Courtois.
The hosts had a faint penalty appeal in the first half waved away for a challenge by Casemiro on Kike Pérez while forward Shon Weissman took a tumble from a Nacho tackle in the second half when his side were trailing the game. However, the referee and VAR did not give a foul.
Casemiro's wayward header from close range was Real's only attempt of note in the first half while striker Mariano Diaz had two goals ruled out for offside.
The Brazilian missed again soon after the interval but Valladolid could have taken the lead when Real defender Ferland Mendy sent the ball to the feet of Orellana, but again the Chilean was unable to get his shot past Courtois.
Los Blancos turn their attention to the Champions League with a last-16 first leg away to Atalanta on Wednesday before hosting Real Sociedad on 1 March. They then face a potential title showdown away to Atlético on 7 March. (Richard Martin reporting)
Given the situation, all that mattered right now was the result. Far from a scintillating performance from the champions, but a vital three points that moves them just three points behind leaders Atlético.
Their neighbours may still have a game in hand but as we saw earlier today, that doesn't count for much until the points are won.
As goal-scorer Casemiro said on the pitch after the final whistle:
"We were missing several players and it's difficult. But the efforts from the whole team today earned the win.
"We want to win LaLiga and there are still 42 points left to play for."
He's right, you know!
Peep, peep, peeeeep! The whistle brings the game to an end.
Hugo Duro has his first real chance to cause a bit of bother at the back as he sprints onto a long pass forward. He gets the wrong side of the defender and then finds himself grabbing at him to reinitiate the attack. The whistle blows for a foul.
Three additional minutes for Valladolid to find an equaliser.
Some quick feet from Isco allows him to skip down the left wing but Madrid struggle to create anything from it.
They may be heading for the three points (their hosts have done nothing to suggest otherwise for a while) but it's been far from a vintage performance.
Plano's first action is to get himself booked. He'll feel a little flat after that contribution.
Valladolid making some late subs:
Alcaraz replaced by Fede
Kike replaced by Plano
Nice play from Lucas on the right, taking on two, then three defenders, almost opens up a chance for Isco. The move is brought to a holt with the offside flag and Madrid seem happy to just keep working the clock down.
Isco drops deep to pick up the ball, he does a little spin away from the closing opponent then lays it off.
That starts a Madrid attack but just as Mendy looks to have a nice opening to cross, he takes a touch and the threat is gone.
Another break in play as Arribas adds another name to the book. A niggly foul from the recently-introduced youngster.
Orellana evens up the card count. It looked like that was simply for him moaning too much for the referee decision making, and the official had to travel across the pitch to administer the yelllow.
The substitute Weissman is immediately involved, taking advantage of a Nacho mistake and then going down in the Madrid area suggesting the Spanish defender clipped his heel.
The referee tells him to get up.
Time for Sergio to make his move from the bench:
Kodro and Weissman ON
Roque Mesa and Guardiola OFF
Another booking, this time for Nacho.
Neither side able to piece anything together in the last few minutes. The game feels like it's lost its rhythm.
Lucas Vázquez goes into the book
Mariano was fairly ineffective as he aimed to step into Benzema's rather large shoes. Can the academy lads impress in the final 20 mins?
The first change we'll see is in terms of personnel:
Isco, Sergio Arribas and Hugo Duro ON
Mariano, Vini and Asensio OFF
Arguably that chance was harder, at least in terms of pressure from defenders, than the other two that presented themselves. Let's see how that changes the flow of the game.
A couple of dangerous Valladolid crosses from deep have put Madrid defenders under pressure. The hosts are giving as good as they're getting in this second half.
Jota on for Janko
Alcaraz is the first to get noted by the ref. And it looks as though the first sub is about to follow it.
Wayward shot from distance from Kroos, high, high over Masip's crossbar. That screams of desperation from the German, and it's surely way too early for that.
SAVE!!! What a stop from Courtois!
Mendy inadvertently sends in a cross to his own area and as it drops Orellana meets it with a powerful volley around the penalty spot. The Belgian keeper does brilliantly to stay big and block.
Lucas gets a shot on target! Maybe it's the first of the game for Madrid, although too tame to beat Masip.
Mariano and Vini surge into the penalty area with three covering defenders. There is not enough space to fashion a real chance and Valladolid bring the ball away to safety.
CLOSE!! Casemiro again has a free header from a Kroos corner (even more space than before) but again is unable to trouble Masip.
He may argue he had to lean back a little to direct it, which would be fair, but after getting to it he probably should have tested the keeper. His reaction is one of disbelief.
Vini breaks free and tries his luck from just outside the area on the left. A massive deflection loops the ball high towards goal but Masip gathers easily.
The hosts get us underway and are quickly closed down by black shirts, leading to a turnover in play.
But Madrid lose the ball in their own third and Courtois is called into action. Nothing too troublesome.
Right, the players are heading out...
As it stands: Real Madrid
Zidane and co will be just as desperate to leave here with a win as they continue to chase their local rivals for the title. A slip up earlier by Atleti has given them hope...but they cannot afford to waste games against teams in the bottom half of the table.
As it stands: Valladolid
A point from this game would move Pucela out of the drop zone, at least temporarily, but based on that first half they'll be considering all three.
As OptaJose highlights, Los Blancos have not yet hit the target with an effort... well, not a legal one anyway.
Although Real Madrid have had the majority of the possession (around 70%) and have had the ball in the net twice (both Mariano, both offside), it's been Valladolid who have had the better chances across that first 45.
The only really good opportunity for the visitors came near the end of the half as Casemiro's head met a free-kick from the right but he misdirected over.
Zidane knows how important three points are here - it would put them within three of leaders Atleti - and will be making that abundantly clear to his players in the changing room.
Peeep! The whistle goes without any more action and the players head down the tunnel.
We'll have one additonal minute.
Modric again involved but almost causing problems for his team.
A simple ball rolled to him around the centre circle is dummied by the Croatian in an attempt to evade two closing players. It doesn't work and had Valladolid been sharper they could have made him pay.
Modric finds himself in space inside the home penalty box but the just can't make anything happen as the ball turns into the proverbial hot potato.
Valladolid clear and we'll start again.
CHANCE!! It's a wonderful opportunity for Casemiro from that 'short corner' as he gets in front of his marker but can't keep the header down. He's raging at himself... and rightly so!
It's another free-kick to Madrid and this one an unnecessary one, conceded by Masip for handling outside his area wide on the right. It's effectively a short corner...
Free-kick awarded to Madrid midway into the hosts' half. Kroos steps up and curls one of those inswingers that just needs a slight flick off a head to cause all sorts of problems for the keeper.
In the end, the German has angled it a few centimetres too high and Masip comes out dominantly to punch clear.
More tidy build-up play from the visitors. This time it's the Croatian midfielder who reaches the byeline and just manages to cut back a cross before the ball rolls out. Blocked out for a corner... of which nothing comes.
Mariano again has the ball in the opposition net, but once again it's ruled offside.
The striker just stepped ahead of the last defender as Modric was sliding him in to the inside right channel.
Masip out well do lealp high and collect a potentially dangerous, deflected, Modric cross.
CHANCE! The ball is worked across the edge of Courtois' penalty area which gives Janko a little space to swing a left leg at it.
A fine block prevents the big Belgian having to do anything but the Valladolid man may have been wiser to step over it for the spare teammate coming in behind.
Valladolid have a corner, which gives their defenders something different to do for a few moments.
Roque Mesa takes it short and the resulting delivery is dealt with by a tight Madrid group.
The ball is in the net for Madrid...
...but Mariano was clearly offside as he was played in behind the defence.
Brilliant play to get out of the high press by Madrid, with Nacho, Kroos and Mendy popping the ball between them in constantly-moving triangles.
That created heaps of space in the centre of the pitch and the move ends with a dangerous ball fired across goal from the right by Lucas. Mariano was the closest to getting on the end of it, but not close enough.
It's an offside call (correctly so) but still a move worth mentioning.
Kroos hits a driven pass from midway inside his own half to land in front of the sprinting Asensio just outside the hosts' area. The Spaniard kills the ball dead on the volley and then attempts to chip the onrushing Masip.
He doesn't get it over - and I repeat it was offside anyway - but lovely to watch.
Kroos delivers but again Valladolid get the ball away with a dominant header.
Corner to Madrid after Mariano and Vini engineer space for a Modric cross.
Kroos across to take from the left.
Quickly ignoring the penalty situation, Madrid head down the other end and space opens for Asensio to do that cut-inside-from-the-right-and-bend-one-into-the-top-corner type thing.
Well over the bar, but the home side will have to limit the space he gets.
Penalty shout! Kike goes down under a challenge from Casemiro in the area and the ref is quick to wave play on.
Upon seeing the replay, I'd suggest the Brazilian got the benefit fo the doubt there. Seen them given.
Mendy and Vini get another opportunity to break down the left together.
It looks promising but they're held up well and the chance is lost.
DOUBLE SAVE!! Courtois called into action twice in quick succession.
First from Orellana and then from Janko, the latter who could have picked his spot better.
Lovely build up from Valladolid and a reminder to Los Blancos that they'll not have this all their own way.
Vini is in again deep on the left. A lovely turn almost has the defender beaten but the stretched clearance takes a nick off the Brazilian and there's a moment of peace.
Kroos delivers from the corner but it's well cleared away.
Expect much of the play to be in the hosts' final third.
That early build up shifts play quickly across to the left and Vinicius gets a chance to create inside the area. The youngster appears to drop a shoulder to confuse the defender but instead slightly throws himself off balance and the chance is gone.
He does win a corner, however.
Madrid in their all black strip tonight, with the obvious pink trim, get the ball rolling.
An initial popping of the ball around the back then sees the midfield get involved as they go looking for an early advantage.
Peep!! We're off!
OK. We're almost ready to get this game going...
A quick look at the split of our hosts' goals as the players head out onto the pitch.
Madrid have lost just one league away game since the end of last season's break in play (W11, D5, L1).
As you can see from the graphic, almost three quarters of their goals scored have been from open play, the vast majority of those inside the penalty area. Conceding goals is more of an even split.
Underestimating the opposition
If Madrid have been guilty of anything this season it has been underestimating some of the division’s lesser lights. Cádiz secured victory in the Alfredo di Stéfano and both Osasuna and Elche have tripped Madrid up on their travels.
In more than one of those games, Zidane elected to rest key players but the Frenchman has little choice to field his strongest available side on Saturday given his injury concerns. The absence of Karim Benzema is a big additional loss.
Valladolid, meanwhile, have slipped into the relegation zone after a run of six games without victory. Worryingly for Sergio, several of those games have been against sides at the same end of the table and the Valladolid boss would dearly love to inject his players with some fresh belief by claiming three points tonight.
Valladolid vs Madrid: H-2-H
Thanks to our friends at SofaScore, we're able to bring you a tidy graphic of the performances of both clubs this season.
The stats show rather clearly how different things are at either end of the table. As you would imagine, Los Blancos dominate the recent head-to-head.
Zidane turns to Castilla
As we've seen, Real Madrid have just 13 senior players for Valladolid, leading Zinedine Zidane to dip into the reserves for Altube, Chust, Gutiérrez, Blanco and Arribas.
Thanks to the social media team at Los Blancos, you can enjoy some of the muscle loosening going on at the José Zorrilla.
Zidane's injury list
In case you've lost count of the number of players on the treatment table in Madrid alllow me to help (in alphabetical order):
Benzema, Carvajal, Hazard, Marcelo, Militao, Odriozola, Ramos, Rodrygo and Valverde.
That's why a big, strong squad is
Lack of foresight at Madrid?
With Benzema being ruled out of this trip and the French striker also a serious doubt for the Champions League Round of 16 game against Atalanta, Mariano has been given the task of filling the striker's place.
Having Jovic available would have afforded Zizou with a solid alternative despite his indifferent form at the club since his big money move from Eintracht. Once again, Madrid make a saving of five million euro by loaning him back to the German side for the remainder of the current season.
Marco Ruiz has a look at the recent decisions to let some players leave.
Starting XI: Real Madrid
Courtois, Lucas Vázquez, Varane, Nacho, Mendy, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Asensio, Vinicius, Mariano
Starting XI: Valladolid
Masip, Janko, Luis Pérez, Joaquín, Bruno, Nacho, Alcaraz, Roque Mesa, Orellana, Kike Pérez, Guardiola
It looks as though we are about to get the team news handed over...
Los Blancos on the road
Another trip. Another three points desired.
The firm favourites for tonight's game are in the stadium.
Where they sit: Real Madrid
The champions had a boost to their hopes of retaining the LaLiga title this afternoon as leaders Atlético Madrid lost 0-2 at home to Levante.
The neighbours' apparent runaway lead is now just six points with the same games played, and a win for Los Blancos would push them ever closer.
Where they sit: Valladolid
Second from bottom is clearly not where Valladolid were hoping to be at this stage of the season.
A recent run that has seen them win just one of their last ten league matches (W1, D5, L4) has them in the fight for survival. The only positive is that there are quite a number of teams who could swap places with them.
Fine tuning in Madrid
We've all seen the genius that lives within the boots of Marco Asensio before. Here he is getting the muscle memory in gear for the game.
Valladolid final session
The lads were training ahead of the visit of the reigning champions. A 'battle' is how the hosts see this one.
Real Valladolid vs Real Madrid: welcome
Hello and a very warm welcome to you as we start our build-up to tonight's LaLiga offering that sees Valladolid host Real Madrid.
As well as looking the situations and form of the two teams taking to the field at the José Zorrilla, we'll also consider events earlier in the day that may have provided additional incentive for the visitors.