Real Madrid will look to continue their winning run under Santiago Solari as they face Celta Vigo on Sunday.
A week is often a long span of time when it comes to football and Santiago Solari has surely made the most of it. Indeed, the interim coach of Real Madrid has guided his team to three successive wins in all competition after replacing Julen Lopetegui at the end of last month with their most recent victory coming against Viktoria Plzen in midweek.
The 5-0 triumph against the Czech Republic champions also happened to be Madrid’s biggest win of this campaign with Karim Benzema scoring twice.
However, Los Blancos are still standing sixth in the league table, three points behind fifth-placed Deportivo Alaves and a whopping seven points behind arch-rivals and league leaders FC Barcelona. Therefore, a win against Celta Vigo could be imperative as they look to get a move on this season.
Speaking of Celta, however, they are the third highest scoring team in the league so far, having plundered 20 goals in 11 matches. They also boast one of the most lethal attacking duos in La Liga in the form of Iago Aspas and Maxi Gomez, who have combined 14 of Celta’s 20 goals this campaign.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of their crucial match-up this weekend.
Team news & tactics
Coming on the back of a 3-3 draw with Real Betis last weekend, Celta coach Antonio Mohamed could make a few alternations on Sunday.
The young Maxi Gomez will replace fellow youngster Emre Mor as the leading attacker. The 22-year-old has been involved in 10 goals and will partner Iago Aspas, who also boasts an impressive record of scoring eight goals this campaign. Both will be key as Celta look to play on the counter.
Brais Mendez scored in the draw with Betis last weekend and will preserve his place in the team. He and Sofiane Boufal will occupy the wider midfield roles while Okay Yokuslu and Fran Beltran start at the base of the midfield. Their work-ethic and understanding could be vital as the hosts look to defend in two blocks of four.
Mohamed will refrain from making any sort of changes to his backline with Hugo Mallo and David Junca occupying the fullback slots while Gustavo Cabral and Facundo Roncaglia form the central defensive pairing.
Sergio Alvarez will start in goal as he searches for his third clean sheet of the season.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Alvarez; Mallo, Cabral, Roncaglia, Junca; Mendez, Yokuslu, Beltran, Boufal; Aspas, Gomez.
Santiago Solari won’t have to deal with any fresh injury concerns ahead of the fixture with Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Mariano and Rafael Varane being the absentees this weekend.
Solari could ring in a few changes, however, following a straining fixture against Plzen in midweek. Luka Modric will come into the side, replacing Dani Ceballos as the central midfielder alongside Toni Kroos while Casemiro will operate as the main holding midfielder.
The Brazilian’s ability to clear out loose balls in midfield coupled with his exceptional tackling could be key against a dynamic Celta midfield.
No changes are expected on the defensive front with Solari running short of options due to injuries. Thus, Sergio Ramos and Nacho Fernandez will once again form the central defensive pairing while Alvaro Odriozola and Sergio Reguilon deputize for the injured duo of Carvajal and Marcelo in the fullback positions.
And finally, in attack, Karim Benzema will be leading the line with Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio providing support from the flanks. Benzema has scored only four goals this campaign and will be eager to extend his scoring tally against a vulnerable Celta defence this weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Odriozola, Nacho, Ramos, Reguilon; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Asensio.
- Real Madrid have a stellar record against Celta Vigo, remaining unbeaten in nine of their last ten matches in all competitions.
- Real Madrid will look to put an end to their awful away form in the league this campaign, having lost their last three away games.
- Celta Vigo are unbeaten in 16 of their last 17 home games in the league.
- Real Madrid have scored at least 2 goals in 9 of their last 10 matches against Celta Vigo in all competitions.
- Celta Vigo have seen over 2.5 goals in their last 10 matches against Real Madrid in all competitions.
Player to watch
Iago Aspas has certainly one of the most lethal Spanish strikers over the past couple of seasons or so, having scored over 14 goals in each of his last three La Liga campaigns. And this season has been no exception, with the former Liverpool striker scoring eight goals in just 11 games.
Just to put things into perspective, Aspas has scored the same amount of goals as Real Madrid’s front three of Benzema, Bale and Asensio have managed together so far this season. Therefore, his performance this weekend will go a long way in depicting the outcome of the contest.
Celta Vigo 2-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid have been on a scoring run, of late, while Celta Vigo already boast a productive attacking line. Thus, it’s only natural to believe that we’re going to witness a lot of goals this weekend. But, given Celta’s excellent record at home, we predict a 2-2 stalemate in this one.