This Sunday we saw one of La Liga’s most exciting match ups in this very young season so far. Real Madrid and Valencia met at Santiago Bernabeu where the Che’s haven’t won within the last ten years. Despite what the numbers might say Valencia is traditionally one of the teams that can give Real Madrid and Barcelona a difficult time in their usually dominant La Liga campaigns.
This Sunday’s showdown was no different as both teams battled to highly contested 2-2 draw. The Ronaldo-less Madrid side set up in a flexible 4-3-3 system that saw Marco Asensio as the wild card as he did not constantly remain on the wing and would constantly help out the interior midfield play, led by Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. This didn’t always benefit the Los Blancos as it sometimes caused Isco to become missing in action during large periods of the match. Despite that, Madrid played their usual dominant game with Marcelo constantly arriving from behind to set up goal scoring opportunities for Karim Benzema who had a horrific outing combined by a great night from Brazilian goalkeeper Neto which ultimately sealed the draw in the final score.
Will Valencia challenge for Champions League qualification?
Valencia put up a brave fight, specially considering that they are a club that is basically trying to regain the trust of the fans and find a new base of players, that can allow them to return to the top spots in La Liga. Although Valencia manager Marcelino Garcia Toral was quick to point out that had Cristiano Ronaldo been present, he would have eventually found a goal and they would have lost the game. Which boasts the great confidence he has in his players. He was happy overall with the performance his team put in.
Brazilian goalkeeper Neto was a wall and the Dani Parejo lead mid field give signs that this team is set to compete this year for a European cup berth. However Italian Simone Zaza produced mixed emotions among the fans. He was able to constantly put the Real Madrid defense with their backs against the wall which is not an easy task to do to a Sergio Ramos led defense. However he was not able to net home any of the chances he generated and constantly made questionable decisions in front of goal. Despite his efforts however he was not the striker that made the worst decisions in front of goal. That crown was stolen by a someone else.
Is Karim Benzema really a top striker?
This question always seems to come up in regard to Karim Benzema since his first days in Madrid and his position battle with Gonzalo Higuain. Talk around town suggest he is only granted a starting spot because Zinedine Zidane is his countryman. Judging from this past game the rumors might be true.
Benzema missed no less than 4 clear goal opportunities that could have meant three points for his club. Not to take anything away from goalkeeper Neto, but the Frenchman simply had a nightmare of a day in front of goal. The bad news for Madrid fans is that Alvaro Morata is gone and there is no potential striker signing on the horizon for their club. At least not before this transfer window deadline. Which means Benzema will split time with the youngster Borja Mayoral which means we will probably see a lot of the Frenchman again this season.
Asensio is for Real?
No Cristiano, no problem seems to be Marco Asensio’s motto. The young spaniard impressed again with a two goal outing that saved the day for his club. With two beautiful strikes from outside the box Asensio is proving that he belongs in the starting 11 for his club even when Ronaldo comes back. Even though Gareth Bale cost the club £86 million (€100 million) back in the day and his salary basically doubles that of the Spaniard, it looks like Zidane will most likely have to sit that million dollar investment on the bench in favour of the home grown product.
So far this season Asensio has been the key in all of the tough match-ups. Which will most likely award him not only a starting spot, but huge raise and a €150 million plus price tag so that no Paris based club will want to come and steal him away.