MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 02: Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid scores his team's first goal during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Girona FC at Wanda Metropolitano on April 02, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Valladolid was an important victory for Madrid. Casemiro rose to the status of the absolute star of the team. He is a second top scorer and his bastion. A decisive scorer who, after scoring, repositioned himself as a defense to assure Madrid in their verismo. Thus the “style” of the team was reinforced by clinging to the virtues of the last League. There are many ways to win and Madrid already has one. Maybe not the best in its history. But it is one.

It is commonplace, but football indeed allows atonement for sins. Beating Valladolid, Madrid arranged many misguided league games in one night. And he came out ready for it. The will to dominate was perceived, to have the ball for something more than pure “Boccaccio”. But very soon something else was sensed that Valladolid was the one in danger. Courtois saved a double local chance in the 7th minute. The bulky Guardiola’s movements coordinated well with the midfielder line, and Valladolid seemed the team with the most instinct on the pitch.

Madrid faced a problem. For those who think that Benzema’s weight is too great, the match was decisive how would Madrid make up for his absence? Benzema occupies a large strip of the field. With Mariano in the area and Asensio and Vinicius glued to the band, whose great Benzemista plateau would it be?

Madrid plays what Benzema says, he is the one who has the route, the map, the director, and the executor of the attack. How would they do it without him? Madrid continued playing the same. Play a-la-Benzema but without Benzema. That free space stimulated Vinicius at first, who showed more vision of the game, more initiative, more importance in short. Some emancipation without the alpha male. But his place in the band invited Asensio to focus, or even Modric to fill the vacant space. Neither did, nor none did at all. Mariano moved a lot, he unchecked himself like a wild bull but in an extemporaneous way, falling offside.

As the first half passed, Vinicius’s initiatives waned and the intense realism of Lucas Vázquez appeared, hanging a couple of remote and parabolic balls for Mariano. This introduced a variant, an alternative, however poor it was, an attempt to exploit the real human capital of Madrid in the field. Nothing happened in the Madrid attack. What stays? The last ratio the set-piece and the defenders’ parietals (this was the previous season in Valladolid, with a goal from Nacho). Casemiro had the best chance of the first half in the 39th minute and had another at the start of the second.

Madrid had avoided new occasions, so the solution could be the recent one: keep the “zero” back and squeeze the game so that the goal will distill like a drop in the desert. In other words, the attitude of Madrid towards the goal has to be that of the cactus or the dromedary with the water. Against this Tuareg attitude, against this new economy of occasions, Mendy conspired with a suicidal extravagance a raffle ball in his own area for no reason. An aureole of sanctity was drawn over Courtois’s head which confirmed his appearance as a figure from El Greco -sale in The Adoration of the Shepherds.

And indeed that’s how the goal came. A cross from Toni Kroos in 65 was finished off by Casemiro at the far post. Just before the triple change that Zidane had already announced, which was perfect. Who played Benzema? Casemiro. This is the reality of Madrid, not necessarily sad if it is assumed. Madrid, if they win the League, will be chapelled, even cemented because the importance of defense is total, it is defensive and it is offensive. The stocking gives it structure, nails it on the field, gives it maturity, floats, and matches are won by specific appearances in attack and Courtois saves. And the goals are, in the middle, Benzema’s plot, what Benzema plays or participates in, and on the other hand, the set-piece (that is, Kroos).

Madrid is simple and once known this becomes more fun to watch. His football is no longer an enigma, they are very concrete keys in which the agonism of the group and the success of Zidane can be expressed when his phlegm touches the flower in the exquisite moment. The luxury that the team has is not above, but in Modric’s physical and technical strap in the middle. He carries his human sacrifice (pivoted) and his ability to pass sweet when oxygen gets more expensive. Valladolid put Weismann in, more attack, and Madrid could then demonstrate skill and solidity. After scoring Casemiro a man band cheered between the central sealing the defense and Mendy or Arribas sought the counterattack.

Without Ramos and Benzema, Madrid’s skeleton was enough with the other vertebrae Courtois, Casemiro, and Modric. Sergio Gonzalez got so hot his head, he tried so many things that he seemed to make more changes to the regulations. But he could no longer do anything against a Madrid constituted as a league fronton. The victory in Valladolid is important because it brings Madrid closer to the leader, because it achieves it with very limited resources and because it confirms a style and its possibilities. Madrid is the one from last year and the eleven of Zidane replace each other as if agreeing once again with their coach.