With La Liga practically lost, Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane will need to motivate his players and ensure that Celta does not hand his team a back to back loss at Los Blancos’ ground. Without Karim Benzema, Borja Mayoral may once again start after impressing in this week’s game against Levante by forcing an own-goal.
Third in La Liga and four points off the second-placed Atletico de Madrid, it is almost certain that as things stand, Real Madrid’s title hopes are gone. FC Barcelona, having beaten Rayo Vallecano 1-5 at the Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas, are already 12 points ahead of Zidane’s men, albeit having a game in hand. Nevertheless, the star-studded capital club must ensure that they return to fine form, and quick, with the elusive Champions League still a real possibility.
As the joint highest scorers in La Liga with 74 goals (alongside Barcelona), it is unfair to say that Real Madrid have had a catastrophic campaign. That being said, the team have been below par, and the Bernabéu hierarchy, alongside the ever-demanding Madrid faithful, will be hoping for rapid improvements.
Eduardo Berizzo’s Celta side will be keen on causing an upset in wake of a three-game unbeaten run. Although sixth in the table, a victory over Zidane’s men would move Celta above Sevilla. Having drawn against the fourth-placed Villareal during the week, an impressive result at the Bernabéu could trigger a strong run of form for Berizzo’s men, who have some relatively straightforward matches down the stretch. Should Los Blancos undermine Celta, a team that reached the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey this season, they may risk another upset in front of their own fans.
Gareth Bale, who is set to start for Real Madrid after returning following a lengthy spell on the sidelines, could prove to be decisive for Zidane’s men. With Karim Benzema likely out for the next month, Bale’s return has come at a vital moment, with Real Madrid struggling for injuries and needing some firepower up front.
Without Kroos and Modric, Casemiro and Mateo Kovacic are expected to start. Isco may likely return to the starting XI, with Zidane aiming to fit all his stars into the team. Despite an impressive display against Levante, this may mean that Mayoral will be forced to start on the bench, but will surely see some minutes as the game progresses. Still, with James off-form, Zidane may opt to award Mayoral with yet another start.
With Gareth Bale back, expect Los Blancos to shine up front and secure all three points.
Celta de Vigo possible lineup: Alvarez; Jonny, Gomez, Cabral, Mallo; Diaz, Wass; Nolito, Orellana, Aspas; Guidetti
Real Madrid possible lineup: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Danilo; Casemiro, Kovacic, Isco; Ronaldo, Mayoral, Bale
Head to Head:
- 24/10/15 – Celta de Vigo 1 – 3 Real Madrid
- 26/04/15 – Celta de Vigo 2 – 4 Real Madrid
- 06/12/14 – Real Madrid 3 – 0 Celta de Vigo
- 11/05/14 – Celta de Vigo 2 – 0 Real Madrid
- 06/01/14 – Real Madrid 3 – 0 Celta de Vigo