Preview: Real Madrid vs. Valencia
La Liga holders Real Madrid will be looking to return to winning ways when they welcome managerless Valencia to the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday night.
Los Blancos are one of only two Spanish top-flight clubs who are yet to lose on home soil so far this season, while Los Che have only won one of their eight league away matches this term.
Real Madrid have suffered a major blow in their quest to retain the La Liga title after dropping points in four of their last seven top-flight matches.
A 2-1 away defeat against Villarreal in their first league fixture of 2023 was followed by a routine 2-0 victory against Athletic Bilbao, but Los Blancos were then forced to settle for a goalless stalemate at home to Real Sociedad last weekend.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side currently sit five points behind league leaders Barcelona, but they could find themselves eight points adrift before they have even kicked a ball on Thursday should the Catalan giants beat Real Betis on Wednesday.
Real Madrid can ill-afford to drop any more points during the second half of the campaign, but Ancelotti and co will be confident of bouncing back with a victory over a struggling Valencia outfit.
Los Blancos have already beaten Los Che this month, albeit on penalties with a 4-3 triumph in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals following a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes.
The 35-time La Liga champions have also won 11 and drawn five of their last 16 meetings with Valencia at the Bernabeu, last losing against them on home soil back in March 2008 – a game which saw David Villa score a brace in a 3-2 win for Los Che.
After just seven months in charge at the Mestalla, Valencia confirmed on Monday that head coach Gennaro Gattuso has left the club by mutual consent.
The 45-year-old has departed the club after just 22 games in charge, less than half as many as his predecessor Jose Bordalas and six fewer than Gary Neville during his brief stint back in 2016.
Valencia ultimately came to the decision to part ways with Gattuso after the Italian won only two games out of eight in all competitions since the World Cup break, losing three of his last four league fixtures including Sunday’s 1-0 away loss against Real Valladolid – a game which saw Cyle Larin net a 90th-minute winner.
Los Che have subsequently slipped to 14th in the La Liga standings and they are one of four teams with 20 points, sitting just one point above the relegation zone, albeit with a game in hand.
Valencia have struggled throughout this season, but their form away from home in particular has been a major concern for almost a year, as they have won only three of their last 16 matches on the road, dating back to March 2022.
Voro Gonzalez has taken the reins as interim boss for the seventh time in his career – the first of which back in 2008 – and the 59-year-old is tasked with steering his Valencia team to an unlikely victory against a Real Madrid side whom they have beaten just twice in their last 13 meetings across all tournaments.
Real Madrid La Liga form:
Real Madrid form (all competitions):
Valencia La Liga form:
Valencia form (all competitions):
We say: Real Madrid 3-1 Valencia
Valencia frustrated Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup earlier this month before ultimately losing on penalties, and another resilient performance across 90 minutes will be required if they are to have any chance of claiming a positive result on Thursday.
Nevertheless, Los Blancos will be regarded as firm favourites to come away with maximum points and they should have enough quality in the final third to fire themselves to victory.