Real Madrid extended their winning streak at home to 8 games after the reigning champions managed a narrow 1-0 victory in the La Liga over Real Valladolid at the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano.
The game started off with Zinedine Zidane making 4 changes to the side that started against Real Betis. Alvaro Odriozola and Marcelo were drafted in for Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy, respectively.
Toni Kroos was out with an injury and was replaced by Luka Modric in the starting lineup. Isco slotted in behind Luka Jovic and Karim Benzema instead of Martin Odegaard.
Eden Hazard has been declared unfit to play till November, while Eder Militao is expected to be out for a couple of weeks minimum.
Real Madrid came into the game as favorites, having won their last 11 meetings against their opponents. Valladolid last registered a win against Real Madrid in November 2008.
Real Madrid settled into the game relatively quickly, passing the ball around with authority, while Fede Valverde looked particularly impressive with his tireless pressing through every area of the pitch.
The game was goalless till about half an hour with no great chances created by either team, but both threatening the opposition with their build-up. Real Madrid were looking the stronger side undoubtedly, but the away side was a threat on the counter, needing to be dealt with by the full-backs and Thibaut Courtois (more on him later).
Jovic came closest to scoring for Real Madrid in the 38th minute, hitting the side netting after being teed up brilliantly by Modric, who seemed to have rolled back the years and seemed to be everywhere.
With the score 0-0 at half time, Zidane ordered Asensio, Vinicius and Dani Carvajal to warm up while he conducted the team talk. The hosts started the second half splendidly with Luka Jovic nearly vindicating Zidane's faith in him by leaping over everyone at a corner to head it in.
But Roberto made a superb save into the path of Casemiro. The Brazilian midfielder was surprisingly unable to tap it in from 3 yards as the ball ricocheted off the crossbar.
Shortly later, the visitors forced Thibaut Courtois into a truly brilliant save who got down ridiculously quick for a man his size to keep out Weismann's low shot after his side were left vulnerable on the counter.
Zidane made a triple change in the 56th minute, with Isco, Odriozola and Jovic coming off for Asensio, Carvajal and Vinicius, respectively.
Real Madrid's intentions were quite apparent as the intensity got turned up a notch until finally Real Madrid found their breakthrough with Vinicius being in the right place at the right time to tap it in as the ball bounced off a Valladolid player into his path.
The visitors forced Courtois into a few more saves during the second half, with them starting to turn the screw after going down. Real Madrid themselves huffed and puffed to put the game to bed through a second goal but the away side were playing with a very astute tactical setup meant to stifle the hosts' play and give them chances on the counter.
The game had an intense finale to it though, as Vinicius Jr. broke away in the final seconds of stoppage time and was 1 on1 with Roberto only for him to take a shot with no power and fluff a chance to get a brace and make it a better scoreline.
Real Madrid next face Levante this coming Sunday, whilst Valladolid face Eibar up next in an attempt to get their first victory of the season.
Here are the talking points:
#1 Courtois' incredible form continues for Real Madrid
Thibaut Courtois continued his rich vein of form as he was an absolute wall at the back for Real Madrid with the visitors looking dumbfounded as they couldn't find a way past the behemoth that he is in goal when in form like this.
There were moments when Real Madrid's defence was threatened by Valladolid, but the Belgian had a reply to everything they threw his away, and walked away with his second clean sheet of the season.
#2 Contrasting fortunes for Luka & Luka
Ballon'd'or winner Luka Modric made his return to the Real Madrid starting lineup tonight in place of Toni Kroos and he put in one hell of a shift and was easily the Man of the Match. He dominated the midfield area, and showed that even at 35 he is one of the very best to not just have ever done it, but still doing it.
It's really easy to count a lot of players out, or past it, and Luka Modric put in a performance that would surely silence all doubters and was a reminder of his mesmeric abilities.
At his best he is one of the very best conductors in football ever.
Luka Jovic, on the other hand, had a night he'd want to move on from quickly and whilst he wasn't particularly bad, he did had two very good chances for Real Madrid that he should've scored from.
Zidane started him in consecutive games for Real Madrid for the first time in his career and, so far, he has not done anything to give a reason to the manager to givr him minutes over Mayoral or Mariano, who are hungry and waiting on the sidelines.
Real Madrid fans are being treated to certainly a more confident Jovic than the one they saw last season, and it's surely only a matter of time with consistent minutes like this before he kicks off.