Real Madrid hosts its first home match of 2021 against Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Real is coming off a 1-1 draw to Elche where the club dropped valuable points in a midweek match. Real is now two points trailing Atletico for first, who play on Saturday as well against Alaves.
Celta is sitting eight in the league table, however the club is just three points out of a top four spot currently. The club is on a strong run as well as it has won four of its last five league matches. The Galicians have not lost a match since the end of November.
Real has dominated Celta in recent history having gone unbeaten in the last 12 straight matches played between the two sides. 10 of these matches have been wins. The club has not lost to Celta since 2014.
Los Blancos have also done well at home recently winning 12 of their last 14 home matches played in La Liga. However, Real will be forced to step up with the captain sitting out for this match.
Real Madrid will be without Sergio Ramos, who missed practice this week ahead of this match. Rodrygo will also miss his second straight match with injury and faces a possible three-month injury spell.
Celta will be without goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez, fullbacks Kevin and David Junca and winger Emre Mor.
There are no suspensions for either club in this weekend’s match.
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Vazquez, Hazard, Benzema
With Ramos sitting out, one of Nacho or Eder Militão will take his place at the back alongside Raphael Varane. Ferland Mendy will also likely start after Marcelo was given the nod on Wednesday.
Eden Hazard has yet to start since returning from injury, though he did come off the bench against Elche. He could finally get the start here on Saturday. Lucas Vazquez has seemingly sealed up the starting spot on the right side.
Martin Ødegaard saw no action on Wednesday, we’ll see if Zidane has plans for him off the bench this time around.
Blanco; Mallo, Araujo, Murillo, Olaza; Tapia; Mendez, Suarez, Nolito; Aspas, Mina
Real Madrid—Celta Vigo 3-2
This will be a tough match for Real Madrid to kick off 2021. Though the history heavily favors the home side, Celta is playing great football currently and is trending upward.
Celta has scored a good number of goals this season (22), however the club has also conceded the exact same amount. Iago Aspas currently leads La Liga in scoring with nine goals on the season.
With Ramos out, it is crucial the backline steps up because we’ve seen before the discrepancy in defending that occurs when Ramos is missing. Celta will exploit his absence if given the opportunities. Real Madrid needs a much better performance out of Dani Carvajal than we saw on Wednesday.
Real will also need a better performance out of Karim Benzema after a rather disappointing performance against Elche. A potential Eden Hazard start would certainly be a boost to the attack.
This will be a winnable, but difficult match for Real Madrid to take away all three points. The club can’t just rest on its laurels and the historic success against Celta. Real does play better at home so hopefully there is a step up in play.
The club can’t afford to keep dropping points with the potential for Atletico to grab a win this weekend and further extending its lead. Real must put forth its best efforts to stop a determined Celta squad.