Real Madrid endured a roller-coaster of a match in their 2-1 victory over Valencia, with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo.
Real Madrid enjoyed being on top of the league for a while, following this victory. They were three points ahead of Barcelona until the Catalan side pulled off a stunning 3-0 win against Espanyol to reclaim the top spot, even as their points remain level.
The match against Valenica had a lot of ups and downs for Los Blancos. The first few minutes saw Valencia put up a brilliant performance as they dominated the hosts to the point where they started to panic. They managed to have an upper hand for most of the first-half, but then came Cristiano Ronaldo with his record-breaking goal. He is now Europe’s top goal-scorer with a whopping 367 goals, topping the legendary Jimmy Greaves’ record.
Following the wild celebrations, Ronaldo missed a penalty which was saved by goalkeeper Diego Alves. Although it looked like Madrid had the game in hand, Valencia suddenly caused a potential upset as Dani Parejo fired a critical goal in the 82nd minute.
The game edged closer to ending in a draw, but then Marcelo’s late strike in the 86th minute provided relief to Real Madrid’s fans.
Let’s take a look at the biggest talking points:
Ronaldo’s record-breaking goal and subsequent penalty miss
Cristiano Ronaldo has always been a man loved by the fans and critics – both sets can never seem to stop talking about him. And he ensures they never do, with either record-breaking performances, or miserable ones.
It was his 367th league goal among all of Europe’s top six leagues, and this takes him ahead of the legendary Jimmy Greaves. Also, this record was broken after 47 years, which just goes to show the gravity of the record. The former Manchester United star has also scored a little over 20 goals in each of his eight seasons at Real Madrid, making a mark of his consistency.
He also tried hard to set up opportunities for Morata, James and Benzema, which seemed to show that he is becoming more adaptable as his time at Real Madrid increases.
However, Ronaldo gave plenty of fodder to his critics as he missed what should’ve been an easy penalty. He also continued his miserable run with free-kicks, as his attempt to dip it inside the net did not work even once, and it kept going over.
The underrated wonder that is Valencia’s goalkeeper Diego Alves
While Madrid’s fans were celebrating the fact that Ronaldo was going to take a penalty against Valencia, there was a strange look of calmness upon Voro’s face. He believed enough in his goalkeeper to do the needful, and Alves did just that.
3 – Diego Alves has saved the most penalties taken by Cristiano Ronaldo (three out of four). Martyrdom pic.twitter.com/q3iodDLtYD
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 29, 2017
Alves saved Ronaldo’s penalty to a stunned silence across the Bernabeu, making it his third save out of the four penalties he has faced against Ronaldo. It is not just Ronaldo who has fallen prey to Alves’ magic – even players like Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann have failed to dismantle the goalkeeper’s incredible talent.
He has also made La Liga history by becoming the first goalkeeper to save six penalties in one season in the Spanish league. Unfortunately, he ended up on the losing side, despite his heroics in the match. With all the hullabaloo surrounding Ronaldo’s record, Alves’ achievements in this game got overshadowed.
Marcelo’s heroic goal which ended up saving Real Madrid
Very rarely is the Brazilian full-back ever taken seriously. This started ever since he scored an own goal against Germany in the FIFA World Cup 2014, within the opening few minutes of the game. It was the same game where Germany went on a rampage and beat Brazil 7-1.
Even last night, before he scored the late winner, there was a time when the Brazilian cut inside on his right foot and tried to cross, but made a horrible mess out of it as he sent the ball flying to the opposite wing. Thus, when he cut back inside on his right foot in the 86th minute, little did people know that he would end up scoring the winning goal.
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) April 29, 2017
He has been touted as the best full-back in the world for a while, despite criticism of not fouling Sergi roberto late on in the recent El Clasico. Marcelo plays an unrelenting game of football, which is often a delight to watch. He tops Real Madrid’s number of assists right now, with a total of 11 so far, followed by Dani Carvajal with 10.
In the eyes of all Real Madrid fans, Marcelo emerged as their shining hero with that fantastic late goal, and the Brazilian truly deserved it.
Voro needs to re-assess Valencia’s crumbling defence
Valencia actually played well last night, and even controlled the game at several points. Their defence was great for a long time, which was a bit surprising considering their dismal stats of conceding 61 goals in 35 games this season.
Elaquim Mangala, Martin Montoya, Toni Lato and Ezequiel Garay played unlike their usual performances, and stood strong against Real Madrid. In fact, Madrid struggled to penetrate into the back line for quite some time.
However, the last five minutes or so saw them revert to the same old defensive line, showing why Valencia sits in the 12th position in the league.
Mangala and Garay both seemed to zone out when Carvajal crossed for Ronaldo’s goal, despite dealing with every other cross rather masterfully. Dani Parejo gave them a clear chance with his free-kick, but nothing materialized out of it, leaving Valencia looking frustrated.
Diego Alves’ downcast look spoke a lot of how dejected he felt. After all, there’s only so much a goalkeeper can do, and Alves does it all brilliantly when it comes to his job. The biggest problem is the fact that Valencia’s defenders are great individually. They need to play as a team if they are to improve their situation.
Are Real Madrid the new comeback kings of the La Liga?
A lot has been said about Zidane’s decision to seemingly split the side into – the ‘A’ team and ‘B’ team. The ‘B’ team played against Deportivo, but then Zidane brought out the ‘A’ team to play against Valenica, in order to avoid a repeat of the 2014-15 season.
However, in both games, both sets of players managed to display an amazing sense of unity. And, it is the same sense of unity that helped Madrid win the game against Valencia, even at a time when the game looked dreadfully close to a draw.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 29, 2017
Statistically speaking, Real Madrid have scored a total of 21 goals in the last 10 minutes of their La Liga games, which is more than any other team in Europe’s top leagues. Barring certain occasions, Los Blancos have truly managed to save themselves even when all hope seemed to be lost.
Ever since Zidane took charge of Madrid, he has lost only 6 out of his 80 games in charge. His contemporaries like Luis Enrique, Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Ancelotti, etc., have lost a lot more. He is helping mould the current Real Madrid squad into being arguably one of the best.