The game at the Mestalla bore similarities to the one at the San Siro midweek. Madrid were playing badly, they were at the mercy of their opponents, but they improved with the changes and ended up winning a crucial game.
First they beat AC Milan in a very difficult Champions League opener. And their second victory this week came in an equally difficult fixture against a Valencia overseen by the masterful hand of Jose Bordalás. He has brought order and conviction to the team, as he has done in all of his previous assignments, only now he has better players at his disposal.
And that is why Valencia are at the top end of the table and why they had a chance to challenge Madrid’s leadership on Sunday. Madrid struggled but eventually came through thanks to two late goals from Vinicius (86’) and Karim Benzema (88’), with each giving the assist to the other.
Valencia were weakened by the absences of Gayà and Cherysev on the left side. In a curious twist of faith, they also lost two players on the right due to injury, first Carlos Soler and then Correia. Despite having to improvise on both flanks, the home side squeezed a Madrid team that kept a very deep defensive line in which Casemiro failed again. Again Alaba played as center back, with Nacho at left back. And so, we missed Alaba’s ability to advance down the left wing and pair up with Vinicius.
Changes work for Ancelotti again
Madrid were having a bad time until the break and things only got worse when they returned for the second half. Valencia, on the other hand, looked much sharper, creating several chances to score before the goal finally came in the 66th minute through Hugo Duro, just when signs of fatigue were starting to show.
Ancelotti corrected his team with a series of changes that worked for him once again. Madrid threw everything at it and their determination paid off. First the assist from Benzema for Vinicius, then the assist from Vinicius for Benzema. Both goals came with a bit of luck -- the first goal from a rebound and the second off Benzema’s shoulder. Another suffered victory that moves Madrid to the top of the table, two points ahead of Champions Atlético.