A triumphant, confident Real Madrid resume their La Liga campaign in Galicia tomorrow against a reeling Celta Vigo squad who have only won one of their last eight league matches.
This situation, however, bears many hallmarks of a textbook letdown scenario, as no matter what is said publicly it will be at least somewhat difficult for Real Madrid to keep their focus on Celta after a two week stretch of giant slaying.
Aitor Karanka touched on this when he appeared before the press, saying "it's going to be a complicated game and more so coming off our recent string of tough matches," according to Real Madrid.com. Karanka also stressed that "The boss has settled the team down after what's been a euphoric week" and with no disrespect to Celta--Mourinho's efforts to settle the team and refocus their energies will likely be his most difficult task before and during the match.
Real Madrid have actually won their last five league matches in the Balaidos, with Celta's last victory coming in 2001, according to Opta. But there is of course the tricky matter of Celta's shock 2-1 victory over los blancos in the Copa this past December, a result that must be considered when contemplating this fixture even in light of Madrid's dramatically improved form since then.
Maybe fate really is smiling on Madrid at this stage of the season because despite the confidence Celta's recent Copa victory may be able to provide the side--their form has drastically dipped in a near perfect inverse with Madrid's rise. As noted in the introduction, Celta have won just one of their last eight league matches, getting thumped 4-1 at Sevilla in Round 26 this past Monday. In perhaps the most welcome and refreshing news, Opta notes that Celta have scored a league low four goals from set-pieces, something that I'm sure Jose Mourinho and the technical staff will have been relieved to discover.
Defending Iago Aspas will be Madrid's most pressing task, as the Spanish forward has participated in a rather stunning 60% of his side's goals this season. Many expect Kaka, Luka Modric and Michael Essien to be selected in the starting XI and in light of Angel Di Maria's injury, Callejon also appears likely to get significant minutes.
If Madrid can retain their focus, expect their league winning streak against Celta to stretch to six.
Who will win the game?
Celta (6 votes)
Draw (5 votes)
Real Madrid (135 votes)
146 total votes