Estadio de Mestalla, Valencia
Sunday, December 22, 20:00 hrs GMT
Valencia is having a difficult start to the season as they sit at lowly 10th position. Valencia have sacked their coach Miroslav Djukic in the last week itself and now face the difficult task of facing Carlo Ancelotti’s men. The 47-year-old was only handed the reins in June but paid the price for an inconsistent campaign that has seen Valencia slip to ninth in the standings.
Real Madrid will look to win this game as they will want to keep in pace with table toppers FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti will have to reshuffle his depleted defence for the visit to Mestalla on Sunday.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Valencia are really struggling in the La Liga at the moment and now really desperate to make a point after head coach Miroslav Djukic was relieved of his duties last week. Youth coach Nico Estevez is having the temporary charge of the side and he will definitely try to make his mark during his short spell.
Valencia has not won against Real Madrid in past 10 encounters and will be looking to change these statistics in their favour. Since the sale of star striker Roberto Soldado, Valencia has really struggled to score as they have managed only 21 goals in 16 La Liga matches.
Chelsea loanee Oriol Romeu is enjoying his breakthrough season at Mestalla this year as he anchoring the midfield pretty well and Valencia faithful will be having lot of expectations from the youngster against the Madrid giants.
Nico Estevez will field a 4-2-3-1 formation with Diego Alvez under the bars. The back-line will be formed by Barragan on the right, Guardado on the left with Victor Ruiz and Jeremy Mathieu forming the central defensive pair. The central midfield will be made up of Romeu and Parejo while Fede, Sergio Canales and Bernat will form the attacking midfield.
Brazilian star Jonas will be the loan striker who will try to expose Real’s makeshift defense.
Probable Starting Line-up (4:2:3:1): Alvez (GK); Barragan, Ruiz, Mathieu, Guardado; Parejo, Romeu; Fede, Canales, Barnat; Jonas
Real Madrid will be without centre-back pairing Raphael Varane and Pepe for the trip to Mestalla, the former is absent with a knee injury while the latter is suspended after collecting his fifth booking of the season in the 2-2 draw at Osasuna.
Ancelotti did receive a boost in midweek, however, as Sergio Ramos’ red card that he collected in the Osasuna fixture was rescinded. Nacho was selected to feature in Real’s 2-0 victory over Xativa in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, and the 23-year-old could get the nod again alongside Ramos.
Real will be looking for a swift response to the disappointing draw at Osasuna, where they had to share the points But Ancelotti will be wary of a Valencia side desperate to make a mark.
Carlo Ancelotti will field a 4-2-3-1 formation with Diego Lopez under the bars. The back four will be Dani Carvajal on the right, Marcelo on the left with Ramos and Nacho forming the central defensive pair.
The central midfield will be made up of ever reliable Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric while in form trio of Gareth Bale, Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo will form the attacking midfield.
Frenchman Karim Benzema will be the loan striker.
Probable Starting Line-up: Diego Lopez (GK); Carvajal, Nacho, Ramos, Marcelo; Xabi Alonso, Modric; Bale, Isco, Ronaldo; Benzema
Player to Watch out for
Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo is back from the injury now and certainly looking for a grand end to the already memorable year of his professional career. CR7 has 17 goals to his name in La Liga this season; a joint top with Diego Costa and would be eager to move ahead of the Atletico striker.
Valencia 1 – 2 Real Madrid
If Real wins, they will be able to keep pressure on both Barca and Atletico while Valencia will be eager to keep their Champions League hopes alive. But the star studded attack of Real Madrid will prove too much for Valencia and home crowd support may not be enough for them to avoid defeat.