Real Madrid travel to Galicia to face Eduardo Berizzo’s Celta de Vigo, in what will be the fourth meeting between the two sides this season
Los Blancos are a mere 4 points away from securing their first La Liga title since 2012 and in their way, stand Celta Vigo and Malaga. It will the fourth meeting between the two sides and Real have come out on top only once, with Celta winning the other and the third, a 2-2 draw.
The Célticos 1-2 victory over Real at the Santiago Bernabeu and the subsequent 2-2 draw at the Balaidos helped Celta Vigo knock out Real Madrid of the Copa Del Rey and ended their chances for a treble, and that the opportunity to avenge that defeat will only motivate Zidane’s men.
Celta de Vigo
Eduardo Berizzo will still be without Giuseppe Rossi and Ruben Blanco due injury, but barring the absence of the duo, Berizzo has a fully fit squad to choose from and we will likely see a some key players return to the starting XI after having been left out in their defeat of Alaves last week.
Sergio Alvarez will likely return to the starting XI in place of young Ivan Villar, who featured last week. Carles Planas should make way for Jonny Castro at left-back, and the center-back pairing of Andreu Fontas and Sergi Gomez will likely be replaced by Facundo Roncaglia and Gustavo Cabral.
In the holding midfield roles, Marcelo Diaz could retain to the starting XI after playing only 45 minutes against Alaves. Pablo Hernandez will likely come in for Jozabed Sanchez. Should Diaz not be fit, Nemanja Radoja will most probably take his place alongside Hernandez.
Youngster Theo Bongonda will mostly be sacrificed for Iago Aspas to return to the right wing, alongside Pione Sisto and Daniel Wass.
Predicted Starting XI(4-2-3-1): Alvarez; Castro, Roncaglia, Cabral, Mallo; Diaz, Hernandez; Sisto, Wass, Aspas; Guidetti
The players unavailable for selection for Zidane are Pepe, Dani Carvajal, Gareth Bale and Nacho Fernandez. Bale, Pepe and Carvajal are still recovering from their injuries while Nacho has been suspended picking up a booking against Sevilla last week.
So Danilo will likely get to keep his place at right-back. Due to Nacho’s suspension, Marcelo will have to return to the starting XI at left-back, while Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane ought to keep their place in the center of defence due.
Mateo Kovacic, Toni Kroos and Marcos Asensio started in Real’s victory against Sevilla last week, so we may see a completely different midfield setup for this tie, with Luka Modric, Casemiro and Isco all coming back into the starting XI.
Cristiano Ronaldo is almost sure to retain his place in the starting XI, given the importance of this tie but the same cannot be said of Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez. The duo may have to make way for the better rested Karim Benzema and Lucas Vazquez.
Predicted Starting XI(4-3-3): Navas; Marcelo, Ramos, Varane, Danilo; Modric, Casemiro, Isco; Ronaldo, Benzema, Vazquez
- Celta Vigo are the only team to have defeated both Real Madrid and Barcelona this season, across all competitions.
- Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 5 goals in his last 5 matches against Celta Vigo at the Balaidos in all competitions.
- Real Madrid have scored at least 1 goal in each of their La Liga matches this season.
- Celta Vigo have beaten Real Madrid only once at the Balaidos in their last 9 Liga matches.
- Celta Vigo have never beaten Real Madrid in a Liga fixture while Eduardo Berizzo has been in charge.
- Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in 11 matches against Celta Vigo in all competitions.
Celta de Vigo 1-3 Real Madrid
Los Blancos have never lost to Eduardo Berizzo in La Liga prior to this game and they cannot afford to start dropping points now. Madrid will bear the brunt of the pressure in this game, as Celta have secured their top flight status for another season, and have nothing to lose.
With Barcelona currently atop the table, a loss could prove catastrophic to Real’s chances of victory but a victory at the Balaidos would keep the advantage with the European Champions and ensure that they need only a point against Malaga next week to secure the title.
This game will certainly have no shortage of goals, with a total of 10 being scored between the 2 sides over the course of 3 games this season. Having rested key players against Sevilla, Zidane will have no shortage of talent available for this tie. With their La Liga title at stake, Real will come out all guns blazing and should they play to their potential, we can expect a similar scoreline to that of their thrashing of Sevilla last week.