What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Real Madrid (2nd; 32 points) vs Valencia (5th; 24 points)
When: Saturday 4th December, 2010, at 21:00 UK time
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain


Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid dream came to an abrupt halt last Monday as the Portuguese coach endured a horrific 5-0 defeat against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. This drubbing meant that the capital team has relinquished La Liga’s prime position in favour of their eternal rivals. Now, they must make sure to quickly wake up from this nightmare as they prepare to play host to Valencia.

Just as to why Real Madrid have lost by such a great margin has been truly perplexing, but none will be more concerned by the result than the team’s own coach. Furthermore, recent news eminating from Madrid has raised doubts over Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain’s fitness, the former picking up a knock in El Clasico and the latter completely missing the game and looking likely to be sidelined for two months. With his attacking duo missing, and Sergio Ramos and Ricardo Carvalho serving suspensions, it will be interesting to see how Los Blancos react in their first post-Clasico test against a side with a legitimate claim to be La Liga’s third best side.

Ultimate Opportunity

With Real Madrid bleeding like a wounded animal, now would constitute the ideal time for Valencia to strike and claim a famous victory against Los Merengues, and in their own backyard no less. After two spirit-lifting wins against Turkish side Bursaspor and Almeria, which saw Valencia score an incredible eight goals and concede just two, Los Che are certainly eager to face Real Madrid, especially given their hosts’ low morale and their own potency in front of goal.

Real Madrid might be having a difficult week, but that doesn’t mean that they will constitute easy prey for Valencia, as Cesar Sanchez pointed out. The 39-year-old shot-stopper, who enjoyed a successful career at the Bernabeu, indicated that Real’s humiliating loss in the Clasico will hardly matter when the two teams face each other, saying: “They will want to play. Both Real Madrid and Barcelona are at their highest level ever. In addition, Madrid are characterised by being able to recover from painful losses, and they will be looking forward to Saturday’s game.”


Recent form

Real Madrid:
Real Madrid 5-1 Athletic Bilbao
(20/11; La Liga)
AFC Ajax 0-4 Real Madrid
(23/11; Champions League)
Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid
(29/11; La Liga)

Villarreal 1-1 Valencia (20/11; La Liga)
Valencia 6-1 Bursaspor
(24/11; Champions League)
Valencia 2-1 Almeria (28/11; La Liga)

Key absences

Real Madrid: Kaka; Fernando Gago; Gonzalo Higuain; Cristiano Ronaldo (doubt); Sergio Ramos (suspended); Ricardo Carvalho (suspended)

Miguel Moya; David Navarro; Jeremy Mathieu; Manuel Fernandez; Mehmet Topal; Cesar Sanchez (doubt)

Players to watch

Real Madrid – Iker Casillas: Casillas has seen his form lauded at times this season under Jose Mourinho. However, Spain’s number 1 picked the ball from out of the net on five occasions at the Camp Nou and endured a horrific evening. With Los Blancos starting from scratch, and Carvalho and Ramos serving suspensions, the custodian might be in line for a tricky evening.

Valencia – Roberto Soldado: There would be few who would be surprised if the “former player” syndrome came back to haunt Real Madrid should they concede against Valencia. Having progressed through the ranks at Los Blancos, Soldado comes back to his old stomping ground in what will be a special occasion for him, with his partnership with Aritz Aduriz looking a lethal one. Bought by Valencia to replace David Villa, Soldado is certainly getting amongst the goals, notching four in his last two games.

Match prediction

Jose Mourinho’s abilities as a coach and a motivator will be tested more than ever as he tries to reassemble his team in the wake of their El Clasico drubbing. Much will depend on Madrid’s ability to bounce back from defeat and re-enter the title race with Barcelona. At home, Los Merengues have the perfect set-up to reorganise themselves, and should they enter the game in right frame of mind – something which cannot be guaranteed – then they can secure a vital win. If not, Valencia are side that can make the evening another to forget.