Real Madrid provided a great opportunity to take a two point lead at the high point of the league as a late goal by Karim Benzema – remarkably supported by Thibaut Courtois – saved only one point in Valencia.
Real started with the forefoot, although they looked a bit awkward and undecided in the last third. They saw Rodrygo and productive Karim Benzema take the lead in the first half, while Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos made extensive efforts to force solid defeats out of Jaume Costa.
At the other end, Ferran Torres was busy looking for Valencia. He whirled Raphael Varane around and barely scored before sending a header wide after a mistake by Thibaut Courtois.
Torres against Courtois became the story of the game when we entered the second half and the Belgian had to be on the go to face his opponent within seconds of the restart. He flew off the line to close the angle and throw the ball wide after Rodrigo took a one-two that separated the Real defense and left Torres one on one.
As the game continued, Valencia continued to evolve. Albert Celades narrowed his midfield to four and cut the supply to Real. Although this change caused the game to collapse completely as a spectacle, it caught the visitors and visibly worn them out. When Carlos Soler arrived at the back post to turn Daniel Wass's cross and score in the 78th minute, it wasn't a big surprise.
Really fantastic goal from Valencia. I love Wass's serenity of pulling the ball back for Soler.
The hosts seemed to be running the clock with relentless effectiveness, and after Luka Jovic's late goal was canceled for offside, it looked like it was. However, there would be another twist as Courtois, devastated by Toni Kroos in the 94th minute and desperately trying to equalize, put the ball in the way of Benzema, who shot home, by one point to rescue .
Whisper softly, but Zinedine Zidanes Real was on the way to a real shape that was moving in that direction. After losing no more than ten games in all competitions since mid-October, they gradually forgot what a defeat felt like, even if their performances were rarely flawless.
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If Barcelona stumbled at Real Sociedad on Saturday, another win in this regard would have been very welcome in many ways. This would have given them a two-point lead over the championship lead and their momentum would have been significant Clásico until Wednesday.
However, it was a big challenge for a team from Valencia, whose modest position in the league might reveal the difficulty of the task ahead. They suffered another defeat at home in the league and celebrated a win in the Champions League in Amsterdam – a win that put them in the last 16 as Group H winners.
It was an important encounter for the men of Zidane, even if his team selection indicated the decisive derby on Wednesday. Casemiro, who was previously omnipresent in midfield and was no longer locked inland, was left on the bench.
Despite being able to control midfield and possession for a long time, they looked increasingly tired as the game progressed and had no response to the hosts' evolving tactical approach.
In the end, it is a point that they will take very seriously in difficult circumstances. It keeps the unbeaten run going, but you will know that you have to improve tenfold on Wednesday after a sad second half.
The Uruguayan led the press so many times while holding the midfield line, and he accomplished both tasks with remarkable effectiveness on an evening that was difficult for him. He played with a calmness and determination that his high-ranking midfield colleagues Toni Kroos and Luka Modric dwarfed, and searched the whole world as if he were the future of Real & # 39; midfield.
Valencia rounds off the list of 2019 matches on Saturday as they embark on the long journey north to face Real Valladolid on Saturday
Los Blancos will face Barcelona at Camp Nou on Wednesday before continuing their home game against Athletic Bilbao.