The biggest game of the weekend comes in La Liga as high flying Valencia take on Zinedine Zidane’s struggling Real Madrid.
Valencia look to pile more pressure onto Zidane
Real need a response
Fresh from their shock cup exit to lowly Leganes, Madrid are in need of a win to salvage some pride, and catch up with Valencia.
They travel to the cauldron that is the Estadio Mestalla 5 points behind their opponents, having played a game less.
Valencia, on the other hand, have exceeded their expectations, and are through to the Cup Quarter Final having overcome a late Alavas fightback.
Although Valencia were forced to penalties, they have the 2nd best home record in the division, taking 23 points from 10 games, and only conceding 6 goals.
So a tough task for Madrid, whose joint top scorers in the League, Bale and Ronaldo, only have 6 goals each in the league.
Ronaldo in need for a special performance
Ronaldo, whose future is currently up in the air, is not having his best season ever. He turns 33 in February and his poor form shows how Real have relied on him massively over the past seasons.
However, the return of Bale, and his good form are a positive for MWelshmanhe welshman has hit the net 6 times in just 9 games this season.
Uphill task for the Galaticos
Valencia’s form in this fixture will give them confidence ahead of the match. They have won 2 of the last 3 games against them at home, and have lost just once in 5.
Valencia were in a relegation fight for much of last season, but won 2-1 in last seasons version of tomorrows fixture last February. They finished in 12th position, which shows what a great job Marcelino has done.
Although striker Simone Zaza, their top scorer, hasn’t scored since December the 9th, Madrid’s defense will have to keep tabs on him. The dangerous Italian has struck 10 times in the league and scored against them last season 4 minutes into his Valencia home debut.
On-loan Goncalo Guedes, who didn’t even manage a goal in two seasons at PSG, has been a revelation. After making just 8 appearances for his former club, Valencia have given him game time and he has returned the favor.
He plays a huge part in the way they play, quick, incisive counter-attacking football, his pace and direct threat make him a handful. He has taken the number 7 shirt and played a part in 10 goals in 16 appearances. With PSG’s wealth of attacking talent, Guedes would make a perfect summer signing, especially if they finish in the top 4.
Real’s defense are struggling to keep out goals, and have conceded twice as many as rivals Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. Their defending for the opening goal against Leganes was suspect, and were saved by the woodwork just moments earlier.
Poor on the road
In what is surely a must win for Zidane, he needs to address the team’s poor form on the road. They are visiting a ground with one of the fiercest atmosphere’s in Spain, and go into the game having taken just 15 points from 8 away games.
But despite that poor return, they have won 4 of their last 6 on the road, although none of the victories came in La Liga. Real can take confidence in the fact that Valencia have lost their last two matches, to at the time bottom club Las Palmas, and Alaves in the second leg of their cup tie.
So much to ponder for Zidane ahead of the match, it’s a massive game for both teams, for sure.
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