Galacticos Still Too Good For Improved Los Che
Valencia v Real Madrid
Valencia host European champions and league leaders Real Madrid on Sunday as La Liga action gets back underway following the festive break.
Unbeaten in five overall, and having earned clean sheets in each of their last two league outings, Valencia have moved into fourth spot in the Spanish top flight heading into this weekend’s action with a trio of club’s lying just a point behind although they remain eight adrift of Real on top. Los Che’s last defeat was also the only loss they’ve suffered at the Mestalla this season when Sergi Busquets’s late strike ensured Barcelona returned to Catalonia with all three points. Only Barca have conceded fewer than the four goals Valencia have let it on their own patch too.
21-year-old forward Francisco Alcacer is the club’s top scorer this term with five goals in La Liga and eight in total.
Following the rare ignominy of suffering three defeats in their first six games to open the season, including two losses in their first three league matches, Real have gone on an incredible run of 22 wins on the spin, a club record. Their two most recent victories saw Carlo Ancelotti’s side crowned World Club Champions after they had also gone top of La Liga – despite playing a game less than all of their rivals – and qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a perfect record. Los Mernegues have also kept seven clean sheets in their last nine games and scored more than three goals on average per game in the Primera Liga and at a rate just off four per game away from home, having scored 31 times in eight away games to date.
The irrepressible Cristiano Ronaldo leads Real’s – and pretty much every other – goalscoring chart this season having scored 25 times in just 14 Spanish league games and 32 in all competitions.
Midfielder Javi Fuego is likely to miss out for Valencia although he is their only major injury concern, while new signing Enzo Perez is not expected to complete his transfer from Benfica in time to take part.
Full-back Marcelo is rated as doubtful for Real after picking up a muscle injury in their 2-0 win over San Lorenzo in the World Club Final with Alvaro Arbeloa also unlikely to feature. Luka Modric remains sidelined but should make a return before the end of the month.
Head to Head
Real have been held to draws in two of the last three clashes between the teams, and came desperately close to a famous win at the Bernebeu last season before a late Ronaldo equalizer rescued a 2-2 draw for the hosts.
Los Merengues won 3-2 at the Mestalla last season and have scored a remarkable 20 times in their last five league visits to Valencia.
Real are predictably short at 1/2 for a 23rd win on the spin with the hosts at a huge 19/4 despite their fine home record. There could be rich rewards in the 13/10 on a win for the visitors -1 on the handicap though, while the rich run of form Gareth Bale has been on – he’s scored in each of his last four games – could be added to so take the Welshman to score at evens anytime or first at 9/2.