Santiago Bernabue, Madrid
Sunday, 20:00 GMT, 4th May 2014
As another La Liga season approaches climax, Real Madrid hosts Valencia in a must-win game. An exciting fixture awaits us as Real Madrid will try to up their chances of a treble.
Real Madrid play hosts to Valencia in another must-win game for the Blancos. Meanwhile, visitors Valencia will only fight for dignity as their ambitions of European qualification will remain unfulfilled. Real Madrid have finally achieved what seemed like a distant dream for the last 11 years. ‘Los Blancos’ are into the Champions League finals after beating last year’s champions Bayern Munich 5-0 on aggregate. After pocketing that emphatic victory at the German club’s home, Real Madrid will look to continue their form in La Liga as they face 8th place Valencia at the Bernabeu. On the other hand, Valencia’s season has been a complete mess. Valencia have failed to achieve European qualification and also been eliminated from the Europa League semi-finals by fellow La Liga team Sevilla. Valencia’s elimination from the semi-finals means the club will be only playing domestic football next season. A defeat will do little harm to Valencia’s season, but a victory for the visitors will mean Real Madrid having no chance whatsoever of winning the La Liga title.
With 4 games in hand and 3 points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid will have to rely on fate in order to win the La Liga. Real Madrid must win all their remaining 4 games and hope for their local rivals to slip-up and drop points. The fixture at home against Valencia seems to be the only challenging one amongst the four remaining fixtures for ‘The Whites’. After the emphatic win against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, Real Madrid will be raring to go and give their best effort to secure another win against Valencia. After entering the Champions League final and getting the German-clubs monkey off their backs, ‘Los Blancos’ will have one eye on the La Liga and the other set in Lisbon as they will face local rivals Atletico Madrid in the UCL final. Real Madrid will do their best to hash Atletico’s chances in the La Liga by trying to win the rest of the matches and hoping the ‘Rojiblancos’ slip up at some stage. With all the players in scintillating form, Real Madrid come into this game as favourites.
A controversial stoppage-time goal from Sevilla’s M’Bia saw Valencia exit from Europa League in the semi-final stage on away goals. Having scored 3 goals at home, Antonio Pizzi’s men looked like they had done enough to overturn the 2-0 first leg deficit, but the 94th minute goal from M’Bia saw league rivals Sevilla progressing on the away goals rule. Having lost in the semi-final, the European dream is over for Valencia. The Spanish club won’t see any European action next season as they are 12 points behind the sixth spot and have only got 3 games in hand. Pizzi’s men now only have pride to play for and they would like to go to the Bernabeu and play spoilsports for Real Madrid’s treble aspirations. Playing away from home, Valencia are the underdogs in this game, especially with Real Madrid looking so strong in the recent weeks.
The last time these two teams faced was at the Mestalla in December. It was a tight game which ended 3-2 in favour of Real Madrid with Jesé Rodriguez scoring a late winner.
Carlo Ancelotti will field a strong side in this must-win game for the Blancos. There is good news for Real Madrid as Alvaro Arbeloa is back in training along with Khedira who started training last week. Though it might be too soon to field the duo in the game, there are positive chances of the fullback and midfielder featuring on the field before the end of the season. Jesé Rodriguez is the only player not available for selection. Ancelotti might choose to rest Coentrao and Pepe as both played an important role in the 4-0 victory against Bayern in the Champions League. Marcelo and Varane might replace the Portuguese duo. As Ancelotti is looking for a replacement for the suspended Alonso in the Champions League final, Illarramendi and Casemira though starting from bench might get a chance to showcase their abilities.
Diego Lopez is expected to take his place back in the sticks. The back four will consist of Carvajal, Ramos, Varane and Marcelo. Alonso, Modric and Di Maria will feature in the middle of the park for ‘Los Blancos’. The front three will consist of the lethat Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo trio.
Probable Line-Up (4-3-3) – Lopez; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Alonso, Modric, Di Maria; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo;
Pizzi will go all out in his attempts to stop Real Madrid from succeeding at their home. The manager will come up with a strong squad to face Valencia’s old-time rivals. Valencia are on a terrible run of form that has seen Los Che win only one of their last six fixtures in the league. However, the performance against Sevilla in the Europa League semi-final stage was a revelation and despite the loss Valencia must be pumped to gain something from this fixture. Los Che will also be looking to avenge that 3-2 home defeat against ‘Los Blancos’. Antonio Pizzi will be without midfielder Oriol Romeu who is out with an injury while Victor Ruiz is also unlikely to feature with a hamstring injury. Jérémy Mathieu is likely to start despite the reported ankle injury.
Guaita will start the game between the sticks for Valencia. The back four will consist of Pereira, Costa, Mathieu and Bernat. Fuego and Keita will be the two holding midfielders. Feghouli and Fede will occupy the wings while Parejo will play in the no. 10 position. Alcacer will be the only forward.
Probable Line-Up (4-2-3-1) – Guaita; Pereira, Costa, Mathieu, Bernat; Feugo, Keita; Feghouli, Parejo, fede; Alacacer;
Real Madrid 3-1 Valencia
Real Madrid will go all out in their pursuit of the treble and will leave no stones unturned in their attempts to win the La Liga. With the demolition of Bayern Munich fresh in everyone’s minds, another convincing victory should await Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.