The moment I saw Zidane was playing with Isco and Marcelo in the lineup, I had a feeling Real Madrid was going to have a horrible match. Especially because Casemiro, the only defensive midfielder in the team and an extremely important player, was unable to participate in the match because he got covid.
During the first 30 minutes, I was surprised to see Real Madrid playing better than Valencia, not extremely good but at least they were better than the rival team. Benzema even scored an excellent goal from outside the penalty box and for a moment, it looked as if Real Madrid was really going to be capable to beat Valencia, which is a team in very bad shape with zero victories in their 4 last league matches.
But this only lasted until the minute 35-minute mark, when a silly penalty was caused by a handball from Vazquez. The penalty was very weird because it was stopped by Madrid's goalkeeper, Courtois, then the ball reached another Valencia player and he scored. The player who scored was supposed to be Marcelo's mark, or at least that what appears to be. But then everything was disallowed because at the moment the Valencia player shoots the penalty, there were other players inside the box, the one who scored the goal from Valencia and Vazques, the one who caused the penalty. If it wasn't for Vazquez being inside the area, the goal would have been disallowed and Madrid would have kept its 1 goal advantage, so Vazquez not only caused the penalty but he also was the reason the penalty was repeated. In the repetition, Valencia scored their first goal.
Around 10 minutes later, by the end of the first half in another attack from Valencia through Marcelo's defensive zone, the play ends in a cross and Varane doesn't hit the ball correctly, instead of throwing the ball outside the pitch, it slowly goes in as Courtois tried to desperately stop it. The defense was like a circus, everything was a disaster and Valencia had the advantage now. They were scoring goals without doing anything spectacular.
The second half continued with Real Madrid feeling nervous and frustrated and Valencia feeling courageous, daring, and full of confidence. 2 new penalties in the first 15 minutes of the second half sealed the deal. One from Marcelo and another one after a clumsy handball from Ramos. So the 4 goals from Valencia consisted of 3 penalties and 1 own goal, really bizarre.
It is worth remembering that last season, Real Madrid's defense was the best no only in Spain but also in Europe. Now, they appear to be out of shape and usually receive at least 1 goal per match.
The performance and the sense of weakness that result from playing with Isco and Marcelo are extremely alarming. Every time they appear in the lineup the match is a disaster for Real Madrid, while is it true that they weren't the only disappointing players, they always participate in Madrid's worst matches. Other players at least have good matches most of the time. The difference between Marcelo, and the main left-back which is Mendy, is like day and night. There is a Spanish journalist known as Misterchip who always has cool information about stats, according to him, these are the differences in results from playing with Marcelo in the last 57 matches for Real Madrid in the Spanish league:
- With Marcelo: 28 matches, 16 victories (57%), 3 draws, and nine losses (32%).
- With Mendy in the left-back: 29 matches, 20 victories (69%), 9 draws, and zero losses (0%). Source in Spanish
Isco and Marcelo have been very important in Real Madrid for the past few years, Marcelo has been important for more than a decade, but sadly, they are now conditioning the team in a negative way. Their low performance doesn't appear to have a solution. After so many negative matches with these 2 players, Zidane should certainly realize the correlation between the presence of certain players and bad results. I think he wanted to give them opportunities in order to rotate the lineup and mitigate any risk of suffering from accumulated fatigue, but rotating with players that harm the team isn't a good way to succeed.
Given the fact that in the next 2 weeks there won't be club matches but national competitions, this would certainly allow Zidane to have some time to reflect and figure out how to continue to compete with the current squad. Real Madrid can still win the Spanish league but only if the out-of-shape players are kept on the bench. Mendy, Casemiro, Valverde, Ramos are must-haves in order to have a solid defense and have a chance at winning important matches.
I hope promising players such as Rodrygo, Asensio, Jovic, and Odegaard continue to participate in a lot of matches so they can begin to become important Real Madrid players. This team has a lot of young talents, they only need more time on the pitch, especially Odegaard and Rodrygo, and more confidence from Zidane.