The referee tacked on five extra minutes to the end of Real Madrid vs. Valencia. The extra boost didn’t help the hosts, however – despite constant pressure, the ball just wouldn’t land in the back of the net. Valencia had but one foray forward during that time: Álvaro Negredo and Rodrigo De Paul broke quickly, but Iker Casillas managed to rescue the resulting shot.
It wasn’t the save that caught the eye so much as the marked contrast with what was going on at the other end of the pitch. Casillas seemed to move through the air in slow motion, looking far more than his 33 years as he fell on the ball.
But Valencia, well … Valencia had Diego Alves, far and away the star of the match. Real Madrid could’ve done with better finishing at times, but for the most part, it was Alves that single-handedly (or footedly) kept the Merengues at bay. Not only did he guess correctly to save a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo, but he was out punching away corners, pushing away pokes and generally making life miserable for El Real. And really, no one could’ve stopped Isco’s impressive equalizer:
Still, Alves made a valiant attempt. And Alves is the reason Real Madrid didn’t manage to take all three points. Three points that it desperately, desperately needed.
The La Liga race hasn’t come to a screeching halt – yet (although it’s still questionable whether it’ll be back next week). But madridistas won’t be sleeping well, knowing their team needs to pick up four points from its final two matches, while Barcelona (who not only won this weekend but looked good doing it) can’t get more than two. Real Madrid holds the tie-breaker, boasting a better head-to-head record, but that’s not going to bring sweet slumber to its beleaguered fans.
Less glam, more goalkeeping in the summer transfer window. Alright, Florentino Pérez?