Real Madrid will be looking to pick up their second win of the 2020/21 campaign when they play hosts to Real Valladolid in La Liga this midweek.

Reigning champions Real Madrid will continue the defence of their La Liga crown when they welcome Real Valladolid to Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Wednesday night.

Zinedine Zidane’s men have been slow in getting off the blocks in the new season, having started out with a goalless draw against Real Sociedad, before just about eking out a victory against Real Betis this past weekend. With four points from two games, Los Blancos are currently seventh in the La Liga table and will be looking to move up the rungs.

Real Valladolid, on the other hand, are still yet to pick up a victory in the new season. Sergio Gonzalez’s side started off with a draw against Real Sociedad, before being beaten by Real Betis 2-0. Following a 1-1 draw against Celta Vigo in their previous match, the Pucela are 17th in the table with two points from three matches.

The corresponding fixture last season had ended in a 1-1 draw with Sergio Guardiola cancelling out Karim Benzema’s late strike for Real Madrid. And ahead of their latest meeting on Wednesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Real Madrid

Eden Hazard is back in contention for Real Madrid (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Eden Hazard is back in contention for Real Madrid (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The big news for the champions is that star attacker Eden Hazard is back in the squad after missing the first two matches of the season. Along with Hazard, Marco Asensio also makes a return but Toni Kroos is out with an injury. Mariano Diaz and Eder Militao also remain unavailable for selection for Zidane.

Having lined his team up in a 4-3-1-2 formation in the last game, the manager might revert to a 4-3-3 setup when Valladolid come visiting this week. In goal, there is no looking past last season’s Zamora Trophy winner Thibaut Courtois for the Merengues.

Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy should continue as the full-backs even though Marcelo has recovered from a minor injury issue. Raphael Varane ought to pair up alongside captain Sergio Ramos at the heart of the Real Madrid defence.

There is no looking past Casemiro in the holding midfield role on Wednesday night. He will have support from Federico Valverde, who scored in the last game against Real Betis. Luka Modric could be in line to return to the starting XI, with Martin Odegaard likely to drop to the bench after starting two games in a row.

Even though Hazard and Asensio are back in contention, it is unlikely that the duo will start on Wednesday night. Instead, it will be Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes who occupy the wide areas, with Karim Benzema spearheading the Real Madrid attack.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Valverde; Rodryo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.

Real Valladolid

Sergio will be unable to call upon the services of  Kiko Olivas, Javi Moyano, Joaquin Fernandez and Ruben Alcaraz, all of whom are out injured. Goalkeeper Jordi Masip will also miss out as he recovers from the coronavirus. The visitors are expected to set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation on Wednesday, ditching the 4-4-2 that the manager deployed in the previous game.

In goal, 34-year-old Roberto ought to continue in Masip’s absence. Luis Perez and Nacho Martinez should retain their places as the full-backs on the right and left sides, with Bruno Gonzalez and former Real Madrid man Javi Sanchez starting at the heart of the Valladolid backline.

Michel, who did not feature in the last game against Celta Vigo, should return to the side in the midfield double pivot. Partnering him against Real Madrid ought to be Kike Perez, although Fede San Emeterio is also an option at the manager’s disposal.

Toni Villa should get the nod on the left flank, while Oscar Plano is likely to slot in on the opposite flank. Summer arrival Fabian Orellana, who arrived from Eibar, will occupy the No. 10 role and look to cause problems to the champions with his movement and creativity.

Sergio Guardiola, who was on target against Celta Vigo last time out, should start as the lone striker. New signing Shon Weissman will provide cover from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Roberto; Luis Perez, Gonzalez, Sanchez, Nacho; Michel, Kike Perez; Plano, Orellana, Villa; Guardiola

Key Stats

  • Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last 11 La Liga games against Real Valladolid (W9 D2). Their last defeat against the Pucela came in November 2008.
  • Real Valladolid have lost their last three La Liga away matches and could equal their worst run on the road in the competition under Sergio Gonzalez (four defeats between January and March 2019).
  • Real Madrid have won their last seven home games in La Liga – six of which have come at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium. This is their best run of results at home in the Spanish top-flight since February 2017 (W8).
  • Valladolid striker Sergio Guardiola has been involved in four goals in his last five league outings (3 goals, 1 assist). In three league appearances against Real Madrid, the forward has registered a goal and an assist each.
  • Los Blancos’ striker Karim Benzema has been directly involved in eight goals in his last eight La Liga appearances against Real Valladolid (five goals and three assists).

Player to Watch

Sergio Ramos

Captain leading from the front (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Captain leading from the front (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

At 34, Sergio Ramos is entering the final phase of his career at the highest level. But, his value in this Real Madrid unit continues to rise. Not only does he organize the backline, but the Spaniard also continues to contribute with key goals for his team with utmost regularity.

Indeed, it was the Merengues’ skipper who came up with the goods against Real Betis, slotting in a cool penalty in stoppage time to seal the victory for his team. In 2020, Ramos has found the back of the net on nine occasions in La Liga – his best tally in a calendar year in the competition.

His overall influence on the game will once again be key if Madrid are to rack up a win on Wednesday.

Prediction

Real Madrid 2-1 Real Valladolid

Real Valladolid have just two points from three games, but have caught the eyes of the onlookers owing to their defensive structure and discipline. However, Real Madrid, having gotten the taste of victory in the new season, will be pushing for more.

Los Blancos haven’t lost a game against their midweek opponents in over twelve years. And considering their impressive home record of late, along with Valladolid’s recent poor run away from home, Zinedine Zidane & co. should be able to prevail. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the champions after another tightly-contested battle.

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