An injury struck Real Madrid travel to face La Liga strugglers Real Valladolid later this evening at 21:00 CET, hoping to get another win in the bag to continue piling pressure on league leaders Atletico Madrid.
Karim Benzema is the latest injury absentee as Zinedine Zidane is without 45% of his first team squad, but they have a recent run of form on their side, with three league wins on the bounce since their devastating 2-1 defeat to Levante at the end of January.
They come into this clash against the 18th placed side with a comfortable win over Valencia, which showed a change in tactics and performance urgency, with something to build upon with all eyes on their UEFA Champions League clash against Atalanta.
Valladolid on the other hand are without a win in their last six, with their last victory coming at the start of January, a 1-0 triumph away at Getafe.
The key talking point
The chances are Zidane will opt for a 4-4-2 formation, playing Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio up front, behind Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Isco. The latter could become an important member of the Champions League plan, as he regularly does for Zidane in knockout rounds, so you can expect the Frenchman to give him a start against a team that is struggling.
But without a striker, that means Madrid won’t put many crosses into the box, and will rely on Kroos, Isco and Modric to break through the Valladolid defence. It’s typically a team which struggles to deal with overloading runs by opponents so Madrid will attack the flanks heavily with pace of Vinicius and creativity of Asensio who is growing every game.
A cross in from the right hurt Valladolid against Alaves who beat them 1-0, Joselu netting the winner as he got in front of his marker, but generally, Valladolid continued their theme of struggling to create genuine goalscoring opportunities. Roque Mesa’s second half shot was the only effort on target they had all game, and that’s a sign for things to come, facing a confident but albeit depleted Madrid.
The hosts are struggling with injuries too, and won’t be able to depend on Pablo Hervias, Javi Sanchez, Ruben Garcia, Oscar Plano, Jawad El Yamiq, and Maranho, who are all out with injury. Lucas Olaza is out with a suspension.
But head coach Sergio will have trio Fede, Joaquin Fernandez and Ruben Alcaraz back following their suspensions meant they missed the 1-1 draw against Eibar.
For Madrid, it’s a long list of casualties. Sergio Ramos, Benzema, Dani Carvajal, Fede Valverde, Marcelo, Eden Hazard, Rodrygo Goes, Eder Militao and Alvaro Odriozola are all injured, though Hazard, Rodrygo and Valverde have returned to training and could feature within the next two weeks.
Real Madrid Castilla quintet Victor Chust, Miguel Gutiérrez, Antonio Blanco, Sergio Arribas and striker Hugo Duro all join the matchday squad, hoping for some first team action if Zidane rotates.
The last time they met?
Their last meeting came at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano back during game-week four at the end of September, as Madrid struggled to put them to the sword and wasted countless chances. Vinicius scored the winner just after the hour mark, and there’s no doubt the Brazilian will be itching to get himself back on the scoresheet against the team that’s owned by Ronaldo Nazario – the Brazilian legend who helped convince Florentino Perez to sign Vinicius from Flamengo.