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Valencia vs Real Madrid, La Liga 2015-16: Match Preview

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Los Blancos try to take advantage of Barcelona's draw against Espanyol.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Several weeks ago, FC Barcelona drew at the Camp Nou against Deportivo de la Coruña and Real Madrid could not cut their lead in the table because Los Blancos ended up losing 1-0 at El Madrigal to a very solid Villarreal team. This time, Benítez and his men will have another chance to keep the race for the Liga BBVA title alive after Messi and Co. did not do enough to beat Espanyol. Mestalla awaits.

Valencia have not been very good this season and they even fired coach Nuno Espirito Santo a month ago. Gary Neville took over hoping to turn things around but they have not beaten a single opponent other than Segunda División B's Barakaldo in the Copa del Rey. Neville is trying to make a relevant player out of Negredo and Rodrigo De Paul is also getting good minutes. Those two players could very well start against Real Madrid if reports from Spain are accurate.

Defensive anchor Shkodran Mustafi will not be available and that's why Neville might be forced to play with three center backs and two offensive full backs in Barragán and Cancelo. This lineup could be problematic for Madrid if Valencia decide to sit back and wait for some counterattacking opportunities given the poor transition defense displayed by Real Madrid throughout the entire season.

Benítez will have Varane, Ramos and Pepe available so Nacho will almost surely sit on the bench after starting the last few matches. If everyone is healthy, Varane and Ramos are expected to start but Pepe's status within the roster and his experience could ultimately give him the spot alongside the unquestionable Sergio Ramos.

A good physical presence like Casemiro could be needed in the midfield, but Benítez will not leave one player out of Kroos, Modric, James, Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema on the bench to make room for the Brazilian box to box. The final decision could define the game and no matter what Benítez decides to do, it will surely be a controversial call if Real Madrid can't get a win.

This will also be Benítez's return to Valencia. The Spanish manager is arguably one of the most successful managers to ever coach Valencia after winning two league titles and a UEFA Cup more than a decade ago.

One way or another, this match could seal Benítez's fate as Real Madrid's coach. Barça's draw has put some pressure on Los Blancos and if they don't deliver and play poorly, Florentino Pérez could sack Benítez after weeks of unceasing rumors.