The reunion of BBC and their importance to Real Madrid
It was a stellar display from Real Madrid at the Mestalla against a team that is placed above them in La Liga. Valencia over the years have been somewhat of a bogey team for Los Blancos. A record of just three wins in nine league games, with just the one solitary victory coming at the Mestalla since 2013 highlights why this win was so important.
Valencia at the Mestalla have been a dangerous proposition for travelling sides this season. Real’s trip was meant to be no different. It was a gritty display, no two ways about it, something that a lot of people have been longing to see from Los Blancos.
It was a second-half display to be proud of, something that has been absent from their locker this season. The major outcome of the game, however, one that would interest most Madridistas would be the reunion of the famous trio of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, aka “BBC”.
The trio of BBC made their first start since the 3-2 El Clasico defeat at the Bernabeu back in April of last year. All of the front three have had their different issues this season with regards to form and fitness but they looked in the groove against Valencia on Saturday. Thier impact seemed pretty accelerated.
Madrid’s first goal, a penalty earned through a perfect counter was reminiscent of the Real sides we’ve come to know over the past six-seven years. The front three of the BBC were at the helm of it all.
Bale won the header in Real’s box from the corner, getting it to Kroos who then fed into a sprinting Ronaldo. Marcelo on the left, who’d made the advancing run was fed by Ronaldo. Marcelo got it through to Benzema who placed it back in Ronaldo’s path, who then won and scored the resulting penalty.
Bale, who’s had a string of injuries to look after this season appeared to have the better of Antonio Lato the entire afternoon. Probing crosses from the right meant that the Valencia center-backs were kept busy and alert.
While Valencia grew as a ball playing team in the second half, Bale’s pace carried Real’s best chances from breaks and counters. This was exactly the case when Bale almost set up Ronaldo, only to be denied by Neto in the Valencia goal.
Ronaldo, now operating on the left, looked a lot more threatening than he has so far this season. Good pace on the counter, willingness to drive through the box, confidence when converting his penalty. All signs indicating a possible return to normalcy for the club record scorer.
A deficiency in confidence is something one might not necessarily think off when talking about Cristiano Ronaldo. This season, it has seemed to take a knock. The penalty against Malaga back in November showed a version of Ronaldo one might not have heard of, just not confident enough. Neither the run-up nor the shot represented the player we have to come to know. The penalty was stopped, only for the rebound to be scored.
It is such peculiar contexts that penalties such as these become important. Not for the goal itself but for the confidence of a talisman. A talisman who’s been accustomed to scoring buckets game after game, season after season. Two penalties against Valencia scored, confidence restored?
Goals which might not really be big as far as the showbiz around the sport go, but they are sure to boost both Zidane and his side’s confidence for the coming weeks. On the whole, it for sure looked a confident performance from Ronaldo, one that showed that the leader within the player is perhaps back and ready to lead by example once again.
Of all of the trio, Karim Benzema has had the worst of times in terms of stats and performances. With just two goals and three assists in the league all season, Benzema has been at the forefront of much of the distain from the Madrid supporters.
Something that was evident in the home game against Deportivo, was when Benzema was subjected to plenty of jeering from the Bernabeu faithful. The game against Valencia, although not entirely, saw some improvement in Benzema’s display. He showed a decent touch to get the ball in Ronaldo’s path for Real’s first goal. And, although clearly not at his best he showed glimpses of what is still to come.
A fearful trio.
As discussed earlier in the piece, all three have had their various struggles this season in one way or the other but it's something about these players when lining up together that gives this team a different look. Make no mistake, they’re three brilliant players, players who have not clicked when played on their own or as a duo. The recent performances, first against Deportivo and now against Valencia show us as to why the trio is a different proposition altogether.
It’s like intimidation, a fear to a certain extent that is more or less instilled in the opposition even the before the game kicks off. It is predictable yet unpredictable in a lot of ways. Knowing that even on an off day, something spectacular could be heading your way from one of these three. That something special that Real have missed so far this season is what the trio brings to the table, something that is more than capable of turning Real Madrid’s season around.
A change in the formation dynamics.
Tactically, it’s been poles apart for Los Blancos so far this season, with and without the trio. Injuries have meant that Zidane for most of this season has resorted to a four-man midfield. Something that worked wonders in the final stretch of last season but has quite visibly been worked out well by opposition teams this time around.
The 4-3-3 formation has so far looked to provide more energy and dynamism to the Real set-up. While the 4-4-2 had only the full-backs as the wide outlets, the three-man attack means that either of the interchanging forwards could set up shop wide and keep the opposition full back busy.
Something that provides overlapping opportunities for the marauding full-back duo of Carvajal and Marcelo. The engagement out on the wide means that there is increased scope for link-up play in the center of the pitch.
The BBC’s return to the Real Madrid set up means a lot to Los Blancos’ faithful already and would mean a lot if they were to propel Real to silverware this season. Real Madrid face PSG in the R-16 in the UEFA Champions League.
PSG, who this season have a star trio of their own in Neymar, Cavani, and Kylian Mbappe will be looking to inflict something big on the side from the Spanish capital. It will be an interesting battle between two attacking powerhouses, one that might possibly decide the whereabouts of the power shift in modern football.
The BBC will be looking to stamp their authority in this high profile match. It’s them who will be the key going forward for Real. Not just this fixture but the coming months in this season, especially in the Champions League, Real’s only realistic hope of lifting a trophy this season.