Before we begin I need you to feast your eyes on the image below, because in the life of a Real Madrid fan in the 21st century, moments like this are like Haley’s comet passing by Earth:
Real Madrid began their league campaign well, defeating Celta Vigo 3-1 last weekend. Leading from the front, joint-Pichichi leader and talisman Lucas Vázquez Iglesias has fired Real Madrid to the top of the league with ONLY 37 match days to go. Here, we take a look at our next opponent — Real Valladolid.
Where is the game happening?
Real Madrid host Real Valladolid at the Santiago Bernabeu. The game will be played at 19:00 CEST.
How did Valladolid fare last season ?
Three sides came up from Segunda División last season. Only one survived: Real Valladolid. Only just. They finished the season in 16th — level on points with 17th placed Celta Vigo. They had a real problem scoring last season, having scored just 32 goals -- the lowest mark in the entire league. They grossly underperformed their xG by 9.64. They also had the third-lowest goal difference as they miraculously survived the drop on the penultimate day of the season. Enes Ünal was their tip scorer last season with just six goal — and that’s twice as many as the second highest goalscorer on the team. To put that into perspective, Sergio Ramos scored six goals from the centre-back position last season, albeit mostly from the spot.
How was their summer business?
OG Ronaldo was never shy went it came to scoring during his career, but Valladolid’s majority owner has spent just €1m. The loan market has been their friend, as they’ve signed six players on loan. Their only arrival who was signed on a permanent basis was Pablo Hervias from Eibar for €1m. Ex-Barcelona frontman Sandro Ramirez has been brought in on loan from Everton to help with the goal-scoring burden. Even with his league goal-drought, which has stretched to two seasons now, he carries the capability to thrive in the right system — something he showed in his stint at Malaga where he netted 16 goals in 31 appearances. Pedro Porro, loaned from Manchester City, should provide a quality threat from the right back position and the addition of Federico Barba should ease the loss Fernando Calero who left for Espanyol.
But it’s the Real Madrid connection, that ‘El Fenómeno’ has finally decided to tap into. Andrii Lunin, Jorge de Frutos and Javi Sanchez have all moved there this season, in the hope of helping Valladolid stay in the top-flight whilst showcasing their talent to their parent club.
Tell me more about their manager.
After being appointed the manager of Real Valladolid in April 2018, Sergio González Soriano led the club to the first division through the playoffs. In their first season back, he did a great job with a very average squad as he somehow managed to keep them in the first division despite the odds. Expect a similar story this season, despite the arrivals.
Valladolid set up in a 4-4-2 formation so expect more of the same. Sandro is expected to be out of the games versus Madrid with an injury despite starting against Real Betis. Sergio is expected to go with the same personnel that got them those three crucial points against Real Betis last weekend.
Thoughts on the last Real Madrid game?
Real Madrid players shook off their preseason rust as they rose to the challenge of beating Celta Vigo 3-1 last weekend. Most of the players played reasonably well, but what was concerning for me was the failure to keep the clean sheet. The game was comfortably won long before Celta Vigo scored a consolation goal. Keeping clean sheets builds up confidence and it would have come in handy, especially for a team like Real Madrid, who’ve struggled to keep clean sheets and churn out wins in the league for the last few seasons. That aside, a lot of the players showed promise for the season to come, and getting wins at this stage would help Zidane figure out and build his new team without getting scrutinized or being put under pressure like Julen Lopetegui.
Real Madrid’s formation and line-up
First of all, a special shoutout to Zinedine Zidane for doing the most Zidane-thing ever when he rolled out a 4-3-3 with an unexpected start for Gareth Bale, thereby throwing the logical predictions by me, Robert Husby and Lucas Navarrete out of the window. To further strengthen the myth of his unpredictability, Zidane had put James Rodriguez not only in the match day squad, but also on the bench. All this, less than a month after Zidane proclaimed in his press conference that neither player was part of his plans.
So, if you think I will be foolish enough to predict another starting XI, you’re absolutely right. After, what can be termed as an uncomfortable afternoon against Celta, Odriozola will most likely make way for Dani Carvajal who has finished serving his suspension. Luka Modric meanwhile, will be out with a red card, which should mean a start for Isco. The rest of the players are expected to retain their places in the starting lineup.
Valladolid’s preseason form
Akin to Real Madrid’s pre-season form, Valladolid lost two, drew one and won just one out of four games. And much like their opponents this Saturday, Valladolid changed the narrative completely with a win away at Real Betis in their first La Liga game. In a disciplined performance, which was no doubt helped by a red card to the Real Betis goalkeeper after just seven minutes, Valladolid scored two goals from their three shots on target as they came away with three crucial points.
How about the head-to-head record ?
If history is anything to go by, Real Madrid should be disappointed if they come away with anything less than three points. Their last defeat came away from home in the 2008/09 season, going back 16 games. Their last home defeat was further back — the 0-1 loss in 1999/2000 season. They’ve generally fared very well against them and this fixture should be no different.
Real Madrid 3-0 Real Valladolid