With their fourth place position on the line, Real Madrid will look to get back to winning ways tomorrow when they take on Valencia at the Mestalla Stadium.
Real Madrid are coming off the back of the shocking 1-2 loss to CD Leganes at the Santiago Bernabeu, in the second leg of the quarterfinal of the Copa del Rey. In the La Liga, they are fourth on the table with 35 points, 5 behind Valencia and 1 point ahead of Villarreal with a game in hand.
Valencia on the other hand, are coming off a narrow 2-3 victory against Deportivo Alaves at the Mendizorrotza Stadium. They are placed third in the La Liga, 3 points behind third place Atletico Madrid and 14 points behind table toppers Barcelona.
Marcelino Garcia Toral will be without the services of Javi Jimenez, Jeison Murillo and Carlos Soler through injury. Ruben Vezo and Gabriel Paulista will be serving their suspensions, so will not be able to feature tonight for Toral’s men.
Toral is expected to start with just around half of the same players which took to the pitch in their victory over Alaves on Wednesday. Neto will most likely replace Jaume Domenech in goal, Gabriel Paulista and Ruben Vezo are expected to be replaced by Garay and Coquelin in the center of defence.
The midfield four of Kondogbia, Parejo, Guedes and Maksimovic are expected to retain their places in the starting XI. However, Simone Zaza and Luciano Vietto are expected to make way for Santi Mina and Rodrigo Moreno.
Probable Starting XI(4-4-2): Neto; Martin Montoya, Francis Coquelin, Ezequiel Garay, Jose Gaya; Nemanja Maksimovic, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Dani Parejo, Goncalo Guedes; Rodrigo Moreno, Santi Mina
Zidane will be without the services of Jesus Vallejo, Sergio Ramos, Dani Ceballos and Isco. A number of changes are expected to be made to the squad that started in their 1-2 loss to CD Leganes in the Copa del Rey quarterfinal on Wednesday evening.
Keylor Navas will likely come into goal ahead of Kiko Casilla, with Marcelo and Dani Carvajal replacing Theo Hernandez and Achraf Hakimi at fullback. Nacho Hernandez is expected to be joined by Rapahel Varane in the center of defence to replace Sergio Ramos.
Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric are expected to come in an replace Marocs Llorente, Isco and Mateo Kovacic in midfield. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are expected to come into the starting XI and join Karim Benzema upfront.
Probable Starting XI(4-3-3): Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Nacho Hernandez, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo
- Real Madrid are undefeated in 17 of their last 19 matches in against Valencia in all competitions.
- Real Madrid have scored a minimum of 2 goals against Valencia in 5 of their last 6 matches in all competitions.
- Valencia have scored a minimum of 2 goals against Real Madrid in 9 of their last 11 matches in all competitions.
- Real Madrid have drawn their last 3 away matches in the La Liga.
- Valencia are undefeated in 9 out of their last 10 home matches in the La Liga.
Player To Watch
Real Madrid: Karim Benzema
With a mere 6 goals in 22 appearances this term, Karim Benzema is going through his worst run of form since the 2006/07 season. The Frenchman’s form hasn’t picked up from the previous campaign and he is currently going through his worst spell in front of goal in his Real Madrid career.
He returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday after a bout with injury which kept him on the sidelines and opened the scoring for his side. They did go on to lose that game, but Benzema will be pleased to have finally ended his goal-scoring drought.
With Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo expected to start alongside him tonight, it will be interesting to see whether the two wingers of the ‘BBC’ provide him with enough opportunities to get on the scoresheet against Valencia and help him rediscover the kind of form that made him one of the best in the business.
Valencia 1-1 Real Madrid
Both Real Madrid and Valencia are in desperate need of victories tonight. Anything other than 3 points and Los Blancos risk falling out of the Champions League places, while Valencia need the three points to keep up with Atletico Madrid who occupy second place.
It would be safe to assume that Real Madrid’s desperation outweighs that of Los Che’s at this point, but Valencia certainly aren’t looking to take any prisoners tonight. A victory against Real Madrid at the Mestalla would come as a huge boost for them and their fans and Valencia on their current form will be disappointed if they don’t end the match with all three points.
Both sides have some key injuries and suspensions to deal with, so taking all of that into consideration, we predict a hard fought 1-1 draw at the Mestalla tonight. Valencia’s form at home this season has just been far too good and they should be able to hold off Zidane’s men at the very least, if not overcome them.