Real Madrid will look to kick off Zinedine Zidane’s second coming at the club with a victory, when they host relegation battlers Celta Vigo on Saturday.
After a whirlwind week, which saw a second managerial change of the season, Real Madrid will be aiming to begin a new era under Zinedine Zidane with a win, when they take on Celta Vigo in matchweek 28 of the La Liga at Santiago Bernabeu this weekend.
Having lost three matches in a row, Real Madrid returned to winning ways last weekend as they beat Real Valladolid 4-1 away from home. However, that result wasn’t enough for Santiago Solari to save his job, as the Argentine ended up getting sacked earlier this week, with Zidane returning as the manager nine months after he left the club.
Zidane enjoyed great success during his first stint as the Real Madrid manager, winning as many as nine trophies. While there will be no silverware this season, the Frenchman will be hoping to steady the ship in the remaining few fixtures and ensure Los Blancos end the campaign on a solid note.
Celta Vigo, on the other hand, find themselves battling for survival in the Spanish top-flight. The Galician outfit are in the 18th position in the La Liga standings, having managed to collect just 25 points from 27 games this season. Their most recent game ended in a 1-0 defeat to Real Betis.
Fran Escriba’s side are without a win in their last five matches, while they have managed just one victory in their last 12 matches (D2 L9). The last time they met Real Madrid, the game ended in a 2-4 defeat at home. They will be hoping to make the most of Real’s recent poor form at home and come away with a positive result.
Team News & Tactics
Dani Carvajal, Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior remain sidelined for Real Madrid, following their injuries against Ajax, while Marcos Llorente also fails to make the 19-man squad announced by Zidane ahead of the game. Captain Sergio Ramos is back in contention, having served his suspension. Casemiro misses out after being sent off in the last league game.
Thibaut Courtois has been the preferred choice in goal for Madrid, but Zidane’s return could see Keylor Navas getting reinstated to the starting XI on Saturday. Alvaro Odriozola should feature at right-back once again, while Sergio Reguilon’s recent form should keep him in the team ahead of Marcelo. Raphael Varane and Ramos will pair up at the heart of the defence.
Luka Modric will drop into the holding midfield role for Real Madrid in the absence of Llorente and Casemiro, while the other two midfield slots are likely to be occupied by Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos.
Isco will be the biggest beneficiary of Zidane’s return to the club, with the Spaniard set to return into the scheme of things, after having been frozen out by Solari. He will slot in on the right flank against Celta Vigo ahead of Gareth Bale, who recently returned from an ankle issue. Marco Asensio will feature on the left side, with Karim Benzema set to spearhead the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Odriozola, Varane, Ramos, Reguilon; Ceballos, Modric, Kroos; Isco, Benzema, Asensio;
Star goalscorer Iago Aspas is absent for Fran Escriba’s side with an injury, while captain Hugo Mallo is suspended for the trip to the Spanish capital. Lucas Olaza, Nemanja Radoja and Emre Mor have been omitted from the 19-man squad named by the manager on the eve of the game.
— RC Celta (@RCCelta) March 15, 2019
Celta Vigo are likely to line up in the 4-4-1-1 system once again, with 23-year-old Ruben Blanco set to continue between the sticks. Mallo’s suspension could lead to Kevin Vazquez’s inclusion at right-back against Los Blancos, with David Junca lining up on the left-side of the defence. Nestor Araujo and and David Costas will form the centre-back partnership.
22-year-old Brais Mendez has five goals and seven assists in the league this season and should start on the right flank, while the left-side of the midfield will be manned by former Southampton man Sofiane Boufal. Stanislav Lobotka and Okay Yokuslu will form the defensive barrier in the middle of the park for the visiting side.
Ryad Boudebouz will start in the hole behind the striker for Celta Vigo, with second-highest goalscorer Maxi Gomez, who has 9 league goals this term, set to lead the line in the absence of Aspas.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Blanco; Vazquez, Araujo, Costas, Junca; Mendez, Lobotka, Yokuslu, Boufal; Boudebouz; Gomez;
- Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last nine games against Celta Vigo in La Liga (W8 D1), scoring an average of 3.9 goals per game.
- Celta Vigo are winless in their last six La Liga away games (D1 L5), failing to score in the last two matches on the road.
- Real Madrid have lost their last four home games in all competitions and will be looking to avoid five straight defeats – something the club has never experienced in its history.
- Celta Vigo have conceded more La Liga goals against Real Madrid than against any other team in their history (242).
- Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has scored four goals against Celta Vigo in the Spanish top-flight, more than what he has managed against any other team.
Player to Watch
It has been a very difficult season for the Spanish playmaker. Having started the season as a regular under Julen Lopetegui, Isco found himself slowly getting frozen out of the first-team picture under Santiago Solari. The player’s situation worsened so much that he was reported to be keen on securing a move away from Real Madrid in the summer transfer window.
However, with Zinedine Zidane now back at the club, Isco’s situation is likely to take a turn for the better. The 26-year-old flourished under the Frenchman’s tutelage in the last couple of years and now that he has taken over the reins again, Isco will be looking to work his way back into the first-team at Madrid and end the season on a strong note.
Real Madrid 4-0 Celta Vigo
Real Madrid have lost four in a row at the Santiago Bernabeu heading into Saturday’s match against Celta Vigo. However, with Zinedine Zidane back at the helm, the atmosphere in the dressing room and the stadium will be boosted to no end.
Celta Vigo, on the other hand, have been struggling to get positive results, having managed to collect just five points from their last 12 league outings. The fact that they are missing key players in the form of captain Hugo Mallo and leading goalscorer Iago Aspas makes things further worse for the Galician outfit.
The Hard Tackle predicts Real Madrid to put an end to their recent woeful home form and mark Zidane’s return to the club with a resounding victory against Fran Escriba’s side on Saturday.