Real Madrid did not play very well but still got some badly needed respite with a 4-1 victory at a very poor Real Valladolid in La Liga on Sunday.
Santi Solari's team at least ended a run of four straight defeats with a victory that keeps them firmly in third place in the La Liga table, mostly thanks to upping their intensity and focus in the second half. They also have one fewer game left to play now until their horror show 2018-19 ends.
A remarkably disorganised defence was torn apart three times in a six-minute spell early in the first half when Valladolid missed a penalty and had two goals ruled out by very close offside calls. Most of the team's big names are clearly now in holding mode waiting to see what happens next. Their lack of discipline was summed up by Casemiro's needless red card in the second half, meaning four sendings off in Los Blancos' past five games.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- With injuries adding to his problems, Solari had few real options for his starting XI. Nominally in a 4-4-2 shape, Madrid were again a shambles tactically, with players either not knowing or not caring about their instructions. Nobody expects the Argentine to remain in the job too long, but this scoreline could keep him there until Alaves at home next Saturday at least.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 6 -- Once again offered very little protection by his defence, not directly at fault any of the three times he was beaten in the first 45 minutes. Must be a long time since a Real Madrid goalkeeper was booked for time wasting in a game like this.
DF Alvaro Odriozola, 6 -- Defensive and positional issues in the young right-back's game shown when he was caught out when conceding an early penalty, although made amends with a burst forward to draw a foul for Madrid's own spot kick in the second half.
DF Raphael Varane, 6 -- Knocked home Madrid's equaliser from two yards after an error from Valladold keeper Jordi Masip, while being part of a defence cut apart by the home side with alarming regularity through first half.
DF Nacho Fernandez, 5 -- Given the complete run-around by Valladolid's Sergi Guardiola (who has not scored in La Liga this season), and was fortunate not to concede a penalty when the home side were trying to get back into things at 1-3.
DF Sergio Reguilon, 5 -- Another shaky game from the youngster who has come a long way this season, but is suffering along with the rest of the team at the moment. Valladolid winger Keko Gontan easily won their personal battle.
MF Luka Modric, 6 -- Sent out to right midfield in Solari's reconfigured 4-4-2 team shape, and had little impact on the proceedings, although still had the energy to get into the box late on to make it 4-1 from close range.
MF Casemiro, 5 -- Incapable of holding the centre of the pitch as Valladolid broke forward at will in the first half. Two unnecessary yellow cards in the second half means he is suspended for next Saturday's crunch meeting with fellow top-four contender Alaves.
MF Toni Kroos, 7 -- Kroos' excellent dead-ball delivery remains one of Madrid's few working weapons and led directly to their first and third goals. Had a very animated touchline discussion with Solari during one of the VAR hold-ups during the opening stages, and was substituted for a fourth time in his past five La Liga games.
MF Dani Ceballos, 6 -- Tried to make things happen in a left midfield role, although rustiness after little playing time lately was clear, especially when losing the ball trying to dribble past opponents in dangerous areas.
FW Karim Benzema, 8 -- Not very involved in the play in the first half as Madrid were almost overrun, but took both his chances well after the break, a calmly converted penalty and then a flashing header from six yards out at a corner. And had a neat assist for Modric's late clincher.
FW Marco Asensio, 6 -- Low on both match fitness and confidence at the moment, and did not have one shot on target in his 90 minutes on the pitch.
MF Fede Valverde, N/R -- The young Uruguayan was again the first substitute sent on by Solari, and he kept the ball tidily, especially when dropping into a holding role when Casemiro left early.
DF Marcelo, N/R -- Token appearance from the club vice captain for the last couple of minutes.