Real Madrid will be aiming to close the gap to the top of the La Liga table when they take on Real Valladolid at Estadio Jose Zorrilla on Saturday night.

Real Madrid will be looking to make it four wins in four games and make up ground at the top of the table when they travel to the Jose Zorrilla to face off against Real Valladolid in matchweek 24 of the 2020/21 La Liga this weekend.

It has been a difficult campaign for Real Madrid with inconsistent form and constant injury problems hampering the defence of their title. Nevertheless, Zinedine Zidane’s side seem to be building some momentum, having beaten Huesca, Getafe and Valencia in their last three games, to reduce the gap to leaders Atletico Madrid to six points, which they can further reduce with another victory.

Real Valladolid, meanwhile, are down in the dumps battling for survival in the top-flight. Sergio’s side are currently 18th in the table, level on points Eibar on 17th and a win this weekend could see them push out of the drop zone. However, form is not on their side, with the Pucela having not won any of their last six games in all competitions, most recently drawing 1-1 against Eibar.

The reverse fixture played in October last year saw Real Madrid eke out a narrow 1-0 win over Real Valladolid with the goal coming from Vinicius Junior. And ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday night, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Real Valladolid

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Real Valladolid manager Sergio will be without the services of Lucas Olaza, who is suspended for the contest while Marcos Andre, Kiko Olivas, Pablo Hervias, Javi Sanchez and Jawad El Yamiq are all ruled out with injuries. There is some good news though as Fede San Emeterio, Ruben Alcaraz, Joaquin and Oscar Plano are available again.

The hosts are expected to set up in a 4-4-2 formation, defending with two banks of four and trying to hit Real Madrid on the break. In goal, former Barcelona man Jordi Masip is a certain starter while Bruno Gonzalez and Joaquin will shield him as the two centre-backs. Luis Perez and Nacho Martinez should be the two full-backs, who are likely to stay tight at deny spaces for the visitors.

Roque Mesa, who scored in the draw against Eibar last time out, should hold on to his place in the middle of the park. Partnering him in central midfield should be Kike Perez, with the duo largely looking to stay behind the ball and shield the defence.

The returning Oscar Plano should get the nod on the right flank while Fabian Orellana should feature out on the left. These two are likely to be the chief creative sources for the home team as they look to fashion chances for the strike partnership of Shon Weissman and Sergi Guardiola.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Masip; Luis Perez, Gonzalez, Joaquin, Nacho; Plano, Kike Perez, Mesa, Orellana; Weissman, Guardiola

Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s injury list much longer than their weekend opponents as Zinedine Zidane will have to deal with the absence of key men Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Dani Carvajal, Eden Hazard, Federico Valverde, Rodrygo Goes and Marcelo. In addition, Alvaro Odriozola and Eder Militao also miss out from the 19-man squad named for the trip.

There will be one enforced change in the backline with the returning Lucas Vazquez set to step in for Carvajal at right-back. Ferland Mendy is the undisputed starter out on the left while Raphael Varane and Nacho ought to line up at centre-back protecting Thibaut Courtois in the Real Madrid goal.

Casemiro should start at the base of the midfield and look to cut off any potential threat before it develops. In addition, given that the visitors are likely to dominate possession, his distribution will also be key. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos should take up the remaining two slots in the centre and will be the main creative hub for Los Blancos.

With Benzema missing, Mariano Diaz is the sole striker at Zidane’s disposal and should feature against Valladolid. The centre-forward will seek support from the wide duo of Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior while Isco is an option from the bench that Zidane could consider if needed.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Vazquez, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Mariano, Vinicius

Key Stats

  • Real Madrid have won ten of their last twelve matches against Real Valladolid in all competitions.
  • Real Valladolid have failed to win their last six matches in La Liga.
  • Real Madrid have lost just one of their last 17 away games in La Liga (W11 D5).
  • Real Valladolid boss Sergio has managed eight La Liga games against Real Madrid without a win (D1 L7).
  • Real Madrid star Karim Benzema has been directly involved in eight goals in 10 La Liga appearances against Real Valladolid. He will be a big miss for Los Blancos on Saturday.

Player to Watch

Vinicius Junior

Vinicius Jr. will hope to impress Zinedine Zidane. (Photo by Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images)

Vinicius Jr. will hope to impress Zinedine Zidane. (Photo by Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images)

Real Madrid have been reduced to bare-bones with respect to their squad, especially in their attacking department. So, it becomes critical for the players that are available to put their hands up and make themselves count. And one player who needs to make a contribution in a big way is Brazilian starlet Vinicius Junior.

Having shown plenty of promise early in his tenure in Spain, the 20-year-old has endured a bit of a slump this term, which even resulted in him becoming somewhat out of favour under Zinedine Zidane. Indeed, he has just started 11 La Liga matches this term, scoring two goals and hasn’t found the back of the net in the competition since October.

But with the likes of Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard missing, the onus will be on Vinicius as well as Marco Asensio to step up and make a difference on Saturday. And the fact that he has scored in two of his three appearances against Real Valladolid should help the 20-year-old’s confidence heading into the contest.

Prediction

Real Valladolid 0-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid find themselves in a difficult position owing to the injuries. However, Zinedine Zidane’s side have found a way to pick up victories in spite of all the problems in recent matches. And with Real Valladolid hardly firing on all cylinders, the reigning La Liga champions should be good enough for another win on Saturday.

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