Real Madrid will be hoping to return to winning ways, when they travel to Estadio Jose Zorrilla to take on Real Valladolid on Sunday night.

After a disastrous week, Real Madrid will be aiming to bounce back strongly, when they face off against a struggling Real Valladolid outfit in matchweek 27 of the 2018-19 La Liga on Sunday.

It all started with the 3-0 defeat to arch-rivals Barcelona in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final last Wednesday, following which Real Madrid succumbed to another home defeat to the Catalans, in the La Liga this time out. And their misery further increased as Dutch giants Ajax hammered them 4-1 to send them packing out of the UEFA Champions League earlier this week.

Real Madrid are third in the La Liga table, 12 points behind leaders Barcelona and eight below second-placed Atletico Madrid. Manager Santiago Solari is under immense pressure after the poor run of results and needs to spark a turnaround this weekend, with fourth-placed Getafe having cut down the gap between the two sides to six points.

Real Valladolid, on the other hand, are flirting with relegation, as they occupy the 16th position in the La Liga standings, just three points above the drop zone. Sergio’s men are without a victory in their last five league outings and have won just one of their last 13 matches across all competitions, with their latest game ending in a 3-1 defeat to Espanyol at the weekend.

The last time they clashed against Real Madrid, Valladolid managed to keep the Merengues quiet for more than 80 minutes, before two late goals from Vinicius Junior and Sergio Ramos clinched the win. The home team will be hoping to compound Madrid’s misery and make the most of their recent struggles to come out with a positive result.

Team News & Tactics

Real Valladolid

Valladolid go into the game without the services of Luismi, Toni Villa, Borja Fernandez and Stiven Plaza, all of whom are out with injuries. There are no suspended players for Sergio to worry about heading into the clash against Real Madrid.

The home team set up in a 3-4-1-2 formation in the last game against Espanyol, but are likely to revert to the 4-4-2 that they have used regularly for most of the campaign. Former Barcelona man Jordi Masip, who has kept seven clean sheets this season, will man the goal for Valladolid.

Antonito will slot in at right-back for the Pucela and on the opposite side, 30-year-old Nacho Martinez is certain to get the nod. At the heart of the Real Valladolid defence will be Kiko Olivas and Fernando Calero, who did not feature in the game against Espanyol.

In the middle of the park, Anuar Mohamed is likely to make way for Michel, while last match’s goalscorer Ruben Alcaraz should continue to feature in the starting lineup. On the right flank, Keko is expected to make a return to the team, with Pablo Hervias likely to get the nod on the opposite wing.

Oscar Plano and Enes Unal are likely to lead the attack for the home side, with Sergio Guardiola providing options from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Masip; Antonito, Olivas, Calero, Nacho; Keko, Michel, Alcaraz, Hervias; Unal, Plano

Real Madrid

Vinicius Junior is ruled out of the tie following the injury he picked up in the defeat to Ajax. This comes as a big blow for Real Madrid, considering that the Brazilian had been their best player in recent matches. Dani Carvajal is also set for a lengthy time out on the sidelines, while Lucas Vazquez is another injury-enforced absentee for the visitors.

Club captain Sergio Ramos is suspended for the game, but Nacho is available after serving out his suspension and should pair up with Raphael Varane at the heart of the Real Madrid backline. Alvaro Odriozola is set to step in for the injured Carvajal, while Sergio Reguilon is expected to keep Marcelo out of the team at left-back.

Marcos Llorente is still not fully fit, meaning Casemiro should continue to feature as the holding midfielder for Los Blancos. There could be a change in the middle of the park, however, with Toni Kroos not performing up to the mark in recent matches. Dani Ceballos is in line for a start, while Luka Modric should hold on to the third spot in midfield.

Gareth Bale is also a doubt for the game due to the injury he picked up in the last game. With Vazquez ruled out and Bale a doubt, January signing Brahim Diaz could be in line for a rare start on Sunday night. Vinicius’ injury means Marco Asensio gets the nod on the left side, with Karim Benzema starting as the centre-forward.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Odriozola, Varane, Nacho, Reguilon; Modric, Casemiro, Ceballos; Brahim Diaz, Benzema, Asensio

Key Stats

  • Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last eight La Liga games against Real Valladolid (W7 D1), scoring 24 goals in those matches.
  • Valladolid have scored only five first half goals in La Liga this season, fewer than any team in the top five European leagues.
  • Real Madrid have only lost on one of their last seven trips to the Estadio Jose Zorrilla (W3 D3) in the La Liga – a 1-0 defeat way back in November 2008.
  • Valladolid manager Sergio has lost all the four games he has managed against Real Madrid in the La Liga, with his teams conceding 15 goals in total.
  • Real Madrid have won four away games in a row in La Liga, heading into their trip to Valladolid.

Player to Watch

Karim Benzema

Time to step up (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Time to step up (Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

The 31-year-old Benzema will once again lead the Real Madrid side in the absence of Sergio Ramos and he will have the onus of turning things around for Los Blancos after what has been a horrific week on the pitch.

The Frenchman is Real Madrid’s leading goalscorer in the league this term, having netted 11 times in 26 matches, but much more is expected of him, given that he is the senior-most player in attack for the club. Moreover, Benzema has failed to find the back of the net in his last three matches in all competitions – something that he needs to address soon, if the Merengues are to bounce back.

Prediction

Real Valladolid 0-1 Real Madrid

Real Valladolid couldn’t have picked a better time to face Real Madrid, given the European champions’ recent struggles. Poor run of form and injuries to key players mean Santiago Solari’s side will be there for the taking on Sunday.

However, the home side themselves haven’t been performing to the best of their abilities, having managed to pick up just one victory in their last 13 matches in all competitions. Real Madrid’s defence has been all over the place recently, but Valladolid have scored just once in their lasy five matches and might not be able to make the most of their opposition’s struggles.

After three very disappointing losses, the Real Madrid players will be eager to bounce back strongly and should overcome the low morale and injury problems, to get over the line on Sunday night, albeit by a very narrow margin.

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