Valencia will visit the Santiago Bernabéu tomorrow at 21:30 CET. Unai Emery’s team is currently third in the Liga table, but is also facing some difficulties in this last part of the season due to Ever Banega’s injury.
Emery’s job at Valencia is now in jeopardy as the stadium has asked him to leave the team. The Basque coach finishes his contract this year and he's not likely get a new offer from the front office.
Real Madrid will be without Spanish centerback Sergio Ramos because of the yellow card he saw in the game against Osasuna. Luckily enough for los blancos, Pepe will return to the Liga lineup after the Liga’s committee sanctioned him after the game in Villarreal.
Mourinho will now have to choose between Varane and Albiol to substitute for Ramos. The Frenchman has been superb every time he’s played, but Albiol has a lot more experience against tough teams. Real Madrid’s coach opted for the Spanish defender against Osasuna, and he might do the exact same thing against Valencia. Varane still needs some protection from the critics and the media, so Mourinho might leave the tougher games to Albiol instead. Even so, Valencia is a very dangerous team in the counterattack and Varane seems to be faster than the Spanish player.
Ángel Di María might start his first game since he recovered from his injury to cause some damage to Valencia’s weak defense. Adil Rami and Víctor Ruíz started the season quite well, and Mestalla thought they finally had a top quality starting pair of Centerbacks, but both the French and the Spanish defender have proved them wrong in these last few months. Rami makes some stupid mistakes in almost every game while Víctor Ruiz is probably too soft to start in an European elite team.
Valencia’s biggest weakness lies in the midfield, since neither Tino Costa, Albelda, Parejo nor Topal can stop Xabi Alonso and his partners. Banega was the only solid, creative midfielder Valencia had, but he injured himself with his car in a gas station (yeah, really). The Argentinian player has a good record of silly things while in Valencia, just like starting right back Miguel Brito. Even though Benzema and Higuaín have been playing well together in these last few games, with Di María’s return Mourinho will surely bench one of them in every game. Cristiano Ronaldo and Özil will likely get to start as well, considering Kaka and Higuaín played against APOEL this past Wednesday.
Khedira and Arbeloa are back on the list and they will likely get the starting spot in tomorrow’s lineup. The German player is the most solid pairing next to Xabi Alonso, and Arbeloa doesn’t currently have a substitute in the roster. Marcelo might rest this game and allow Coentrao to start in the leftback because he also played the whole 90 minutes against APOEL.
If Real Madrid is able to finish the game with a clean sheet, Mourinho’s team should get the three points easily. Valencia’s defense is a bad joke and Real Madrid’s strikers have enough firepower to score a couple of goals. But Soldado, Feghouli and Jonas will surely present Madrid’s defenders with a tough challenge.