In a matter of days, Real Madrid’s season could take a turn towards silverware or towards failure. Valencia is fighting for the third spot to avoid the Champions League qualifying round. Because of this, they won’t come out to the Santiago Bernabéu without giving a tough fight. A bitter rivalry that gives the fans outstanding entertainment, it’s the match to watch this weekend.
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
The first leg of the UCL semi-finals proved Carlo Ancelotti was wrong. His lack of trust in the substitute midfielders is doing a lot of damage. He has to go back to his usual system, as Ramos in the midfield with the 4-4-2 gives the upper hand to the rivals. Three men in the front also bring more depth and variety to scoring opportunities. This is possibly the idea for Wednesday, so 90 minutes of practice is positive.
GK: Iker Casillas
There aren’t any rumors out there about a potential Keylor Navas feature. Therefore, we’ll stick with the captain as a certain starter. His future is also unknown and solid showings can tip the scales in his favor.
RB: Álvaro Arbeloa
Ancelotti seems to only want to rotate the full backs from time to time. While he should do this with other positions more often, it’s likely he’ll only stick to the defense. The rivals have a powerful attack and the defensive full backs work better.
Varane was unrecognizable versus Juventus, setting up the experienced Portuguese for a starting shot on Saturday. His strength and marking will come in handy against Valencia’s skillful attackers.
CB: Sergio Ramos
Back in the defense after the catastrophe in the midfield during the week, he has to regain his confidence. The experiments shouldn’t be tested in big games and the top players should be put in their natural roles.
LB: Fábio Coentrão
The Portuguese deserves a chance after Marcelo was one of the weak spots in Italy. If Fábio shines, he can earn a lot of points and even feature in the second leg of the semi-finals. This might be one of his last matches at the club.
RCM: James Rodríguez
Despite his impressive form following his return, he’s bound to have a less shiny day. That came last Tuesday, so hopefully Valencia will be one of the good days. The league title isn’t lost yet and the best James can help achieve it.
CM: Toni Kroos
One of the few keeping the team together in the final sprint. He can’t do everything by himself, so he will need the cooperation of his fellow midfielders and defenders. He hasn’t beaten Valencia as a Madrid player yet.
It’s possible Modrić won’t be back this season, unless Real make it to the Champions League final. Because of this, Isco will stay a regular in the lineups. There are very few, if any alternatives in the bench. He has to improve drastically.
RW: Gareth Bale
Criticized for his poor contribution at the Juventus Stadium, Valencia will be another huge challenger. He’s under fire by the media and fans, making this the appropriate time to give it all at the Bernabéu.
ST: Javier “Chicharito” Hernández
Karim Benzema is back and ready to help his teammates. Carletto stated he would decide before the game if he would start or not. This might be the last chance for Chicharito to enjoy a match from the beginning.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
The club will probably decide its fate for this season on Saturday and Wednesday. Now more than ever he must deliver those performances we don’t see often in big matches. The Pichichi and La Liga are both at stake.