The pressure is likely to be on Real Madrid when they travel to Valencia’ Mestalla Stadium Sunday night for their last game of the year.
Real Madrid are currently third in the BBVA Primera Liga behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, both of whom play before Carlo Ancelotti’s side and if they both win, which is the most likely outcome of their matches away to Getafe and at home to Levante, then Madrid will kick off 8 points off the top of the table. Anything other than a win will see them lose further ground in the race for the title, reports Xinhua.
It has not been a particularly good fortnight for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who have drawn away to third tier Olimpic de Xativa in the Copa del Rey and followed that up with a 2—2 draw away to Osasuna last weekend and a flat 2—0 win over Olimpic in this week’s return leg in the Cup.
The good news for Madrid is that the Spanish FA disciplinary committee did them a favour midweek by lifting the first of the two yellow cards Sergio Ramos saw in Pamplona.
That means the defender is able to play Sunday, an important factor considering that Rafael Varene is out with his long standing knee problem while Pepe is suspended after completing a cycle of five yellow cards.
Ramos will probably partner youngster Nacho Gonzalez, who made his Madrid debut in Mestalla two years ago in a game that saw Real Madrid put six goals past their rivals.
Gareth Bale has not trained at all during the week and it remains to be seen if the talented but fragile winger will form part of the team or whether or not Angel Di Maria will be given another chance despite rumours of his departure from the club.
Xabi Alonso will also be the focus of attention after persistent rumours this week that he will not renew his current contract and leave the club at the end of the season.
Valencia receive Madrid in turmoil after a week which saw them sack coach Miroslav Djukic in the wake of last week’s 3—0 defeat away to Atletico Madrid.
The club hopes to contract Juan Antonio Pizzi after the Argentinean announced his departure from Torneo Apertura winners, San Lorenzo in his homeland, but the negotiations have yet to be completed and the team will be directed by B—team coach Nico Estevez Sunday.
Estevez was in charge as Valencia progressed in less than convincing style for the last 16 of the Copa del Rey Thursday and he will be able to welcome defender Ricardo Costa and Oriol Romeu back into his side as the club look to end a difficult 2013 on a positive note.