The ITV of Vallecas. If you want to win a League with capital letters and without a guilty conscience, you have to overcome the ordeal of knocking down Rayo in his enthusiastic fiefdom of Vallecas. That’s how it was ten years ago, with the famous ‘Record League’. Mourinho trained that great team that reached 100 points and 121 goals. In attack they were a machine that danced around that insatiable predator called Cristiano, but on that afternoon of February 26, 2012 (today is exactly a decade old) Rayo de Movilla, Javi Fuego, Michu and Diego Costa put it on Japanese to that Madrid that that season dressed in red passion. The 0-0, just like what happened today, seemed like it was going to stop the leader. Until a genius came from Cristiano, who engineered an incredible goal by beating Joel with a backheel… ten meters from the goal! That solitary goal gave three golden points. Well, ten years later history repeated itself. The glasses of the marker seemed immovable, and more with an inspired Luca Zidane, who had aborted two clear chances for Asensio. Until Vinicius and Benzema rubbed the lamp and designed a 5-D goal, a cartoon goal, a pinacoteca goal. Porcelain wall, Vini’s artistic control, painting feint, Luca on the ground and a perfect pass from the Brazilian for Karim to put his left boot to seal a decisive victory in the race for League 35. A goal that came out of the hat of these two Soccer Houdinis, who seemed lethargic in the cold Vallecas afternoon until they set the afternoon on fire with that goldsmith’s work. That is why Ancelotti never rotates them. His infinite trust in them is rewarded.
Courtois factor. In the last six official matches played by Carletto’s aircraft carrier (Athletic, Granada, Villarreal, PSG, Alavés and Rayo), Courtois has kept four clean sheets and has only conceded two goals, those of Berenguer and Mbappé, both in the last minutes in Bilbao and Paris. The Belgian giant has turned his bow into a matchbox. Guardiola, Mario Suárez or Trejo only saw a goalkeeper every time they tried to reach the leader’s goal with danger. I remember that the five Leagues in a row of the Quinta del Buitre were cooked first with saves by Buyo, with 0-0 on the scoreboard, before the Míchel, Butragueño and Hugo Sánchez produced rout after rout. Well, before Karim-Vini’s great goal, it was Courtois who had three interventions that dispelled doubts and qualifying fears.
Valverde experiment. For 36 minutes, the Uruguayan developed the role he will play against PSG in the dream comeback on March 9. Ancelotti replaced Casemiro (he will be absent against the French due to cards) and put the midfield on the most dreamed-of day for the Madridistas in a long time. Kroos as anchor and Valverde and the omnipresent Modric ahead of the German compass. Fede Valverde gave dynamism and verticality to the game. I like this variant of the team. I don’t think Pochettino will find it very funny.
Laporta factor. Just yesterday we saw how Laporta, in his eagerness to make it normal for a club like Barça to celebrate a pass to the round of 16 of the prestigious Europa League as if it were a Champions League, assured without blushing that “winning the League is still in our aspirations”. The Barça president forgets that these statements are discussed in the Valdebebas locker room. And they motivate Carlo’s men even more to underpin the conquest of the title as soon as possible. In fact, there is a whole week to prepare Real’s visit to the Bernabéu next Saturday. Yet another ending. And four days later, the big night against PSG. Here we go!
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