Sports Mole brings you the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Real Madrid’s trip to Celta Vigo in La Liga.
Santiago Solari has led the team to three wins from his three matches in temporary charge, and Los Blancos will fancy their chances of overcoming a Celta side that has won just one of their last eight in Spain’s top flight.
Three wins, five draws and three defeats – that is how Celta have performed in their 11 La Liga games this term. A total of 14 points has left them in 11th spot in the table, and they are only actually three points behind sixth-placed Real Madrid ahead of their meeting in Vigo this weekend.
Celta have posted three top-half finishes since returning to La Liga in 2012, but they have ended each of the last two campaigns in 13th position. There is no question that Celta have the squad to improve on that position, but just three wins from 11 matches this term will be a slight disappointment for the fans.
On the flip side, Celta have suffered just three defeats. Two of those have come in their last four matches, but they returned to winning ways with a 4-0 success over Eibar on October 27 before drawing 3-3 with Real Betis last weekend.
Celta were thumped 6-0 by Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in May, but the points were shared in a 2-2 draw in the reverse league match last season, and it would be fair to say that Los Blancos have had their problems this season.
Iago Aspas and Maxi Gomez have scored 14 of Celta’s 20 league goals this term, and those two will be key to the home side’s chances of success on Sunday. Real Madrid still have their problems in a defensive area, and that should create a fascinating battle this weekend.
Indeed, only Barcelona and Sevilla have scored more league goals than Celta this season, while Real Madrid have already conceded 14 times. Celta have had their problems in recent months, but Antonio Mohamed‘s side will bring a three-match unbeaten run into this contest.
Recent form: DDLLWD
Recent form (all competitions): DLLWDD
Real Madrid are far from over their problems this season, but there finally seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, with interim boss Solari leading the team to three wins from his three matches in charge.
In truth, the fixture list has been kind to Solari. Indeed, his first game in charge brought a 4-0 win over Melilla in the Copa del Rey, before Los Blancos put a much-needed three La Liga points on the board with a 2-0 success over Real Valladolid at the Bernabeu last weekend.
Wednesday’s 5-0 win away to Viktoria Plzen was extremely impressive, however, and Real Madrid are now on a run of four wins from their last five games in all competitions. That said, the European champions have only won one of their last six in the league, suffering four defeats in the process.
In truth, Real Madrid should probably be in a worse position at this stage, but the teams around them have also been dropping points. The capital giants sit sixth, but are only three points off third-placed Sevilla, and seven behind the leaders Barcelona, which is not disastrous when considering what could have occurred.
Los Blancos have the chance to put a run of wins on the board, meanwhile, when considering that their next five in the league are against Celta, Eibar, Valencia, Huesca and Rayo Vallecano. The supporters will be expecting to be a better position by the time the winter break rolls round, and that should be the case.
There have certainly been some teething problems in the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era, but this is still a squad full of winners, and one that will fancy their chances of overcoming Celta.
Real Madrid will be far from full strength once again, however, with Solari still without a number of key defenders, although the international break should give the club the chance to recover some players.
Recent form: LDLLLW
Recent form (all competitions): LWLWWW
As for Madrid, it will be a case of ‘same again’ for Solari when it comes to his back four. Indeed, Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Jesus Vallejo and Marcelo are still all on the sidelines, meaning options are limited.
Luka Modric and Marco Asensio were both left on the bench for Wednesday’s 5-0 win at Plzen in the Champions League, but the pair should return, with Dani Ceballos and Lucas Vazquez expected to drop to the bench.
Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema were on the scoresheet in the mid-week European match and will continue in the XI, with exciting youngster Vinicius Junior providing an attacking option from the bench.
Celta Vigo possible starting lineup:
Alvarez; Mallo, Cabral, Roncaglia, Alonso; Brais Mendez, Yokuslu, Fran Beltran, Boufal; Gomez, Aspas
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Odriozola, Ramos, Nacho, Reguilon; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Asensio
Head To Head
Real Madrid put six unanswered goals past Celta at the Bernabeu in their last league meeting, but the points were shared in a 2-2 draw in Vigo back in January.
Los Blancos have actually won seven of the last eight league meetings between the two teams, with Celta not triumphing since May 2014.
Worryingly for Celta, Real Madrid have scored 21 times in their last five league matches with their opponents this weekend.
We say: Celta Vigo 1-2 Real Madrid
There is no question that Celta have the firepower to overcome Real Madrid this weekend, but the European champions have improved under Solari, and we fancy them to collect all three points with a narrow win.