Real Valladolid vs. Real Madrid: 6 Things We Learned

Nick Dorrington@@chewingthecocaSpecial to Bleacher ReportMay 7, 2014

Real Valladolid vs. Real Madrid: 6 Things We Learned

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    Real Madrid handed the advantage to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in the race for the Primera Division title by drawing 1-1 away to Real Valladolid on Wednesday.

    Madrid knew that they needed to take all three points to remain in realistic contention and were unable to do so despite going ahead courtesy of a first-half free-kick from Sergio Ramos. Valladolid had the better of the second period and scored a late equaliser through substitute Humberto Osorio.

    It was a hugely disappointing result for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, particularly on the back of another draw at home to Valencia at the weekend.

    Here are six things we learned from Real Valladolid vs. Real Madrid.

Real Madrid Have Ceded Title Advantage to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona

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    Real Madrid were in pole position to take the Primera Division crown following Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 loss to Levante on Sunday afternoon but are now all but out of the title race after dropping four points in three days.

    Sunday’s 2-2 tie at home to Valencia was followed by another disappointing draw on Wednesday. They now need both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona to slip up if they are to win La Liga.

    Madrid are third in the table, one point behind Barcelona and four points behind the leaders Atletico. A win for Atletico at home to Malaga on Sunday would end Madrid’s hopes.

    The quest for La Decima, the illusive 10th Champions League triumph, was the club’s priority at the start of the season, but it will still rankle that they have been unable to secure the league title from a position of such strength.

Real Madrid Face Anxious Wait over Ronaldo Fitness

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    Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 50th goal of the season in all competitions to salvage a point in Madrid's 2-2 draw at home to Valencia on Sunday, but he went off injured inside the first 10 minutes on Wednesday.

    He struggled with a hamstring problem during training on Tuesday, as per Marca, and the same injury forced him off on Wednesday.

    Early reports, confirmed by Carlo Ancelotti, as per Madrid-based journalist Dermot Corrigan of ESPN, suggest the injury is not serious and that he was substituted only as a precaution.

    With the league title race now all but over, Madrid’s doctors will focus on getting him fit and sharp for the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid on 24 May.

Real Madrid Look Blunt Without Bale or Ronaldo

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    “Their two lethal weapons are counter-attacks and set-pieces,” Valladolid coach Juan Ignacio Martinez said of Real Madrid in his pre-match press conference, as per Football Espana. But with Gareth Bale injured and Cristiano Ronaldo forced off early on, Madrid rarely threatened through the former.

    Indeed, outside of set pieces, Madrid created little of note throughout the 90 minutes. They had 21 shots, but, as per Squawka, 11 of them were from outside the area. Only two, aside from the goal, were on target.

    Karim Benzema struggled to extricate himself from the close attentions of the Valladolid centre-backs and was unable to link effectively with Ronaldo’s replacement, Alvaro Morata. Without the outright pace and power of Bale and Ronaldo to worry about, Valladolid comfortably dealt with everything that Madrid threw at them.

    Granted, most teams would struggle without two of their three main scorers, yet Madrid still had sufficient talent to come away from the Estadio Municipal Jose Zorrilla with all three points. Their failure to do so was partly down to Carlo Ancelotti and partly due to subpar performances from some of his players.

Ancelotti Doesn’t Have All the Answers

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    Carlo Ancelotti has been widely and rightly praised in the wake of Madrid’s convincing Champions League semi-final victory over Bayern Munich, but Wednesday’s match showed that he doesn’t always have the answers.

    Madrid managed to gain control of the first half after a sloppy opening but failed to maintain that control after the break as Valladolid grew into the match and began to put together a number of dangerous attacks. The home side were just a quality final ball away from creating some excellent chances.

    It took Ancelotti awhile to make a change, and when he did, the introduction of Asier Illarramendi did little to stem the flow. He was booked within a couple of minutes of coming on for a wild foul on eventual goalscorer Humberto Osorio and failed to impose himself on the match.

    Marcelo had a similarly limited impact when he was brought on.

    In the circumstances, it was surprising Ancelotti did not turn to Casemiro, the strong, powerful Brazilian midfielder who did such an excellent job of protecting Madrid’s defence when introduced in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final success over Borussia Dortmund.

    In his post-match press conference, as reported by Dermot Corrigan, Ancelotti admitted that a lack of control had been his side’s undoing.

    His failure to produce adequate solutions contributed to his side dropping points.

Isco’s Inconsistency Continues

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    Isco has had an up-and-down season since joining from Malaga for €30 million last summer. His performances have vacillated between excellent and poor, and his display on Wednesday was very much in the latter camp.

    He was particular disappointing in the first half, giving the ball away on numerous occasions with careless passes and contributing little on the defensive end. He improved slightly after the break, but he was still far from influential. It was no surprise to see him substituted with just less than 20 minutes left to play.

    His excellent campaign at Malaga last season demonstrated that he has the talent, but Isco needs to apply himself and use his abilities more effectively if he is to establish his reputation at the club and international level over the next couple of years.

Survival Now in Real Valladolid’s Hands

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    Real Valladolid were 19th in the table going into Wednesday’s match and knew that defeat would leave them reliant on others dropping points in order to survive, regardless of their own results.

    With a further point to their name, their fate is now in their own hands. They are 17th by virtue of a better head-to-head record against Getafe. Valladolid will be certain of staying up if they win their final two matches: away to relegated Real Betis on Sunday and at home to Granada on the final weekend.

    With others likely to drop points, coach Juan Ignacio Martinez may even feel that four points will be enough to secure his side another season of Primera Division football.

    If they perform to the same level as they did on Wednesday, they should have little trouble obtaining them.


    All statistics courtesy of Soccerway unless otherwise stated.