Real Madrid will look to close the gap between themselves and Marcelino Garcia Toral’s high flying Valencia when they face each other tonight at the Mestalla.
As things stand, the reigning champions are 5 points behind tonight’s opponents, who currently occupy third place on the Liga table. However, Real Madrid do have a game in a hand and while they would still be fourth if they win tonight, they could reduce the gap to a mere 2 points in the process.
Being embroiled in a battle for Champions League spots isn’t something that anyone at the club could have possibly foreseen at the start of the season, but that is the current state of affairs at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, Zidane believes his side can still turn things around and have a good season.
Speaking about the current position of the club in his press conference, he said, “We’re not happy with where we are, we’re going to fight and get through this, I’m telling you now. We can still win the Champions League and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got”
With rumours going around about his job being on the line, the Frenchman reiterated the support he felt from the club’s President. “We’ll see what happens ultimately, whether things change or not. That’s not to be decided now. I feel the club and the president’s support for the squad. We need that and we’ll keep going to try and change things.”
As per the 19-man squad released by Real Madrid’s official site, only four players haven’t traveled to the Southeast to face Los Che tonight. Starting with defence, Captain Sergio Ramos and youngster Jesus Vallejo have been left out of the squad, both of whom are dealing with injuries.
While Vallejo was never likely to start a game of this magnitude, Ramos almost certainly would have. However, his likely replacement Nacho Fernandez has performed well when called upon this season and the 31-year-old isn’t likely to be missed too much in the heart of defence.
At fullback, Marcelo and Dani Carvajal are almost certain to come into the squad and replace Theo Hernandez and Achraf Hakimi at left and right back. Further up in midfield, Dani Ceballos has been left out, but the main omission is that of Isco, who is still nursing his injury.
The midfield trio that started in their 1-2 loss to CD Leganes on Wednesday is expected to see a total overhaul. The midfield will almost certainly comprise of Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos who will replace Marcos Llorente, Mateo Kovacic and Isco in the middle of the park.
With the unavailability of Isco and the return of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, we may finally see the ‘BBC’ trio start together for the first time in the League this season. Zidane confirmed Cristiano Ronaldo’s fitness in his pre match press conference, so we can expect to a see a 3-man attack tonight.