Valencia vs Real Madrid : Preview, TV Channel Info, Team News, Prediction, Betting Odds
Real Madrid get the ball rolling in 2016 exactly the way they did in 2015 – with a trip to the Mestalla to take on Valencia in La Liga. Having ended the forgetful year in a slightly lighter note when they downed a spirited Real Sociedad 3-1 at home, Los Blancos are getting their league season back on track following 3 defeats in the previous 5 games.
The capital club have endured their worst start to a league season since the 2008/09 edition, having drawn thrice and lost as many times. This disappointing run has seen manager Rafa Benitez’s hotseat under tremendous pressure and the Spaniard will have to turn things around sooner rather than later as the season is almost halfway through.
Whilst Real Madrid have shrugged off challenges from substandard teams with little hitch, they’ve been found wanting against bigger teams. They have dropped points against teams such as Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Barcelona and Villareal, and will have to buck that trend before the gap between them and their rivals widen further.
On the other hand, the hosts for this game, Valencia, are plunged into crisis of their own. Los Che are currently languishing 10th in the table, and have seen Nuno Dos Santos depart. The newly appointed manager, Gary Neville, has had a baptism of fire in his first managerial job and has failed to halt The Bat’s downward spiral.
With no victories in the last 6 league games, Valencia’s season is drowning partido-a-partido, and to make matters worse, will have to go through a Real Madrid-sized test now.
Kickoff and Telecast
Date & Time: 4th January 2016 – 1:00AM (IST)
Venue: Mestalla Stadium, Valencia
Channel: Sony Kix
Valencia will be without Lucas Orban and Javi Fuego, who are set to miss out due through suspensions, whilst Rodrigo De Paul and Santi Mina may replace the injured Zakaria Bakkali.
Alves, Feghouli and Enzo Perez will remain out of action due to injuries.
Real Madrid will have Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos back in the line-up after serving their respective suspensions, whereas Danilo will continue to hold the fort in the absence of Daniel Carvajal, who is close to full fitness.
Probable starting line-ups:
Valencia (4-3-3): Jaume; Cancelo, Mustafi, Abdennour, Gaya; Parejo, Gomes, Danilo; De Paul, Alcacer, Mina.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Danilo, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, James; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.
Valencia are currently having a stop-start league campaign. They’ve been limping ever since the curtain-raiser against Rayo Vallecano in Madrid, and barring the emphatic 5-1 victory in Vigo a couple of weeks ago, have quivered on their trails.
Just half a year ago, Valencia finished an encouraging 4th in the league and were celebrating their entry into the Champions League again. But the advent of new season has made it look like a distant memory. Former Manchester United legend and head-honcho Gary Neville is certainly staring up a cliff, and has the board’s prying eyes are focused right on him as the patience is wearing thin.
Last 5 matches: L-D-W-D-L (Last match: Villareal 1-0 Valencia)
Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez is sailing in the same boat as the aforementioned Englishman. The Spaniard has suffered heavy criticism for their poor form and also the blunder that led to his side’s expulsion from the Spanish King’s Cup.
Although he saw his tenure get off to a positive start when Real Madrid went the first 14 matches of his reign unbeaten, the momentum has punctured with time and the former Liverpool boss needs to reinduce it as the season has just begun to heat up and the fans are constantly calling for his head.
Last 5 matches: W-W-L-W-W (Last match: Real Madrid 3-1 Real Sociedad)
Paco Alcacer vs Sergio Ramos and Pepe
Valencia will be relying on the shooting boots of Paco Alcacer to tackle Real Madrid. The Spanish striker has accrued 6 goals in the league thus far and will be more than happy to add to the tally while going against the Whites. The 22-year old has caused them problems in the past, bagging a goal or two, and will try to repeat it when the sides meet on Sunday.
Blocking him on his tracks are centre-back duo Sergio Ramos and Pepe, who’ve been one of the best defensive pairings in the recent times. They may have bats in their belfry, but are nothing less than a bulwark on their day.
The Real Madrid defenders will have to keep a weather eye on Alcacer, and deny him too much of a space to exploit.
- Valencia are undefeated in 20 home matches in La Liga.
- Real Madrid have lost 2 of their last 3 away games in La Liga.
- Real Madrid have won only once against Valencia in the last 5 meetings.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in each of his last 4 visits to the Mastella stadium.
- Valencia are winless in their last 5 matches in the league.
Given that Valencia are on a poor run of form and Real Madrid have stumbled against bigger sides, this game can be an end-to-end affair. Both the managers in the dugout are under-fire and must rack-up a win to ease some pressure off their shoulders.
A very tight game, but the visitors to eke out narrowly. Just by a goal.
Predicted score: Valencia 1-2 Real Madrid
Betting Odds (bet365)
Valencia – 9/2
Draw – 14/5
Real Madrid – 8/13