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December 4, 2010 9:00 PM GMT
Santiago Bernabéu.
Referee:‬ Pérez Lasa‎
73′ C. Ronaldo
86′ C. Ronaldo

La Liga Preview: Real Madrid - Valencia

After Clasico humiliation, los Blancos will have to show their mental strength against los Che...

By Robin Bairner

Cristiano Ronaldo & Josè Mourinho - Real Madrid (Getty Images)
Not Humiliated

Not only did Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid lose their unbeaten record when they were hammered by Barcelona last Monday, they also lost their dignity as a string of unwanted records were suddenly placed beside them. The Portuguese coach is known for his mental strength in tight situations, but he has never been faced by the prospect of bouncing back after such a defeat, and a dangerous Valencia side would probably not be his choice of opposition for Saturday evening.

There was genuine optimism around the Bernabeu approaching the game in Catalunya earlier this week, but from the outset it was clear that los Merengues would find living with a Barca side at the peak of their powers an impossible task. By full-time, the discipline of the Madrid side had vanished, and Sergio Ramos’ red card only added to the pain of a 5-0 drubbing.

“One team played very good, one team very bad,” Mourinho confessed to the press. “I've always said that the club [Barcelona] is a finished product and Madrid are a long way short.

“Humiliated? No. It's easy to deal with this loss, we just weren't good enough.”

The rhetoric around the camp is good. There is an acceptance of the pain suffered on Monday, but equally there is a desire to right what was a very poor performance. Against los Che, los Blancos have an immediate chance to show the rest of Spain that they are in the title race for the duration and won’t be finished by Barca’s tour de force.

Be Careful

Valencia may be one of Spain’s greatest clubs, but they approach this fixture very much in the shadow of Real Madrid given recent events. That won’t necessarily displease coach Unai Emery, whose men are starting to emerge from a four match winless streak in the autumn that has cost them a place in the top four at present.

Much of their positive work has been done at home, with victories over Rangers, Getafe, Bursaspor and Almeria serving to boost confidence. On their travels in La Liga, however, they have not won since the last weekend in September, when Sporting de Gijon were beaten 2-0. Going to Real Madrid, even a Real Madrid in a state of shock, will be no easy ask.

“Both Real Madrid and Barcelona are at their highest level ever,” Cesar Sanchez told the media. “In addition, Madrid are characterised by being able to recover from painful losses, and they will be looking forward to Saturday’s game.

“We have the same desire to win as them. We must play our game and work hard for 90 minutes, because they will not forgive mistakes, and they can change the game in an instant.”

Chasing the final Champions League spot, los Che will see Saturday night’s encounter as an opportunity to earn some unexpected points at the Bernabeu. Madrid are vulnerable, but by the same token, Valencia are unpredictable and must approach this fixture with the vigilance it requires. From Cesar’s comments, the mentality appears to be right.


Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence in the squad is headline news as he was doubtful earlier this week due to an inflamed tendon. Ezequiel Garay is also present.

Sergio Canales, Gonzalo Higuain, Kaka and Fernando Gago remain on the sidelines due to injury.

Ricardo Carvalho and Sergio Ramos are both suspended.


Cesar and Moya are out, so third choice goalkeeper Guaita will be given the honour of protecting the net. David Navarro and Vicente are overlooked due to technical decisions, while Jeremy Mathieu, Sofiane Feghouli Manuel Fernandes and Mehmet Topal are injured.

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Last Five Matches
Team News
Available Squads
1Iker CasillasGoalkeeper
33Raúl Albiol Defender
6Lassana DiarraMidfielder
6Sami KhediraMidfielder
14Xabi AlonsoMidfielder
22Ángel Di MaríaMidfielder
11Mesut ÖzilMidfielder
7C. RonaldoStriker
25Jerzy DudekGoalkeeper
24Ezequiel GarayDefender
12Pedro LeónMidfielder
9Karim BenzemaStriker
25Esteban GraneroMidfielder
19Mahamadou DiarraMidfielder
33Marius StankeviciusDefender
12Hedwiges MaduroMidfielder
20Ricardo CostaDefender
18Jordi AlbaDefender
24Tino CostaMidfielder
8Juan MataStriker
9Roberto SoldadoStriker
23Miguel BritoDefender
11Pablo HernándezMidfielder
25Alejandro DomínguezStriker
-Ever BanegaMidfielder
20Aritz Aduriz ZubeldiaStriker
Players to Watch
Mesut Özil
Mesut Özil
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 11
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Mesut Oezil was hauled off at half-time in the Clasico, having offered very little as an offensive threat in the game. The German will retain the faith of Jose Mourinho after being a key player for Real Madrid over the course of the season and will be deployed as the chief playmaker. Los Che aren’t the solidest side in La Primera Division, so there should be hold there for him to punish.
Roberto Soldado
Roberto Soldado
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Former Real Madrid youth Roberto Soldado will see Saturday’s fixture as a great opportunity to get one over on his old employers. With four goals in his last two matches, the physically imposing front man will hope to exploit the kind of holes in the Real Madrid that Barcelona found. He has proven himself to be a deadly finisher from his time with Getafe, and if Valencia can get the No.9 to that level he will be a potent force.
Probable Lineups
Iker Casillas 1
Arbeloa 17
Raúl Albiol 33
Pepe 3
Marcelo 12
Lassana Diarra 6
Sami Khedira 6
Xabi Alonso 14
Ángel Di María 22
Mesut Özil 11
C. Ronaldo 7
Guaita 13
Bruno 2
Marius Stankevicius 33
Hedwiges Maduro 12
Ricardo Costa 20
Jordi Alba 18
Joaquín 17
Albelda 0
Tino Costa 24
Juan Mata 8
Roberto Soldado 9
Much will be learnt about this Real Madrid side by the way they respond to last weekend’s game. Jose Mourinho would expect to have his men going into this fixture with a positive and determined mentality, which could make all the difference come full-time.
Editor's Prediction
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
C. Ronaldo C. Ronaldo
Real Madrid
28 6
Diego Costa Diego Costa
Atl. Madrid
27 5
Messi Messi
25 6
Karim Benzema Karim Benzema
Real Madrid
17 0
Alexis Sánchez Alexis Sánchez
17 0