The start of the calendar year was not kind to Spanish giants Real Madrid, but just a week after their shock 1-0 loss to Getafe that showed just how vulnerable their lead atop La Liga may just be, they got back on track. Just days away from the Spanish Super Cup semifinal against rival Barcelona, Los Blancos regained their scoring touch with a 4-1 win over Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu to create more positive vibes before El Clasico.
Here’s what to know about Real’s performance:
The ref helped them get started
The penalty kick that gave Real Madrid the lead through Karim Benzema was an absolutely embarrassing call. Casemiro had lost the ball by the time he entered the box, and all Omar Alderete did was shield the Brazilian off of it, with the latter falling down. The call by Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez was horrendous, and it changed the match completely.
Now, it should be said that Real were the sharper team leading up to that point, having just hit the crossbar via Luka Modric, but it was a gift.
The attack enters on fire
This was far and away Real Madrid’s best performance of the season going forward overall. They finished with their second-most shots in a game this season with 23, the the third-most goals in a game with four, and their xG of 4.00 bested the 3.41 they recorded against Celta Vigo in September.
They controlled the ball, they dictated the pace and had very little to worry about defensively with Valencia seemingly clearing ball after ball and not trying to have a proper build-up in attack.
Both Benzema and Vinicius Junior scored twice on the night, with three of the goals coming in the second half.
Now, this run of form with seven goals in their last two games in all competitions comes at a great time for Carlo Ancelotti’s team, as rival Barcelona enter struggling in attack. Barca have scored multiple goals in jut one of their last four games, and that was the Copa del Rey round of 32 win over Linares Deportivo, a club I didn’t even know existed last week.
After dropping points against Granada on Saturday thanks to conceding in the 89th minute, the two teams enter going in opposite directions, which gives Real an edge psychologically.
A little more caution is needed when defending
If there is anything Real need to work on ahead of the Barca game, it’s showing a tad more caution in their challenges. Eder Militao had a silly challenge in the first half that put him on a yellow, and it was a foul at midfield that was the result of a lack of focus.
Then there was Casemiro, who could very well have seen a red card before winning the penalty. The center midfielder was clumsy in some of his challenges, mistiming a couple that could have resulted in two yellows.
Lastly, Ferland Mendy conceded a penalty kick due to a needless jersey tug in the box with 14 minutes to go.
Ancelotti can live with that as it was just a tad sloppy, but that’s simply nitpicking a bit after what was a decisive victory at home that they will take any day.