Real Madrid are set to lock horns with Shakhtar Donetsk later tonight, with the reigning European champions needing a win to move one step closer to securing the top spot in the group.
Later this weekend, Real Madrid take on Getafe, in what could be a must-win game ahead of El Clasico.
Speaking ahead of the contest, Borja Mayoral, who left Real Madrid for Getafe this past summer, heaped praise on some of the Merengues’ players, along with Carlo Ancelotti.
“He is very similar to Zidane. He is calm and close to the players and the dressing room respects him and conveys calmness in the team despite a lot of pressure,” said Mayoral (h/t Diario AS) when asked about the Real Madrid manager.
The former Real Madrid attacker, who has scored only once this season, went on to praise Vinicius Junior, calling him one of the best players in the world. He also hailed Rodrygo and Real Madrid’s excellent start to the campaign.
“Their improvement is incredible. Vinicius is among the best players in the world and Rodrygo is incredibly talented. In pre-season, I was amazed at their speed and the way they scored goals,” he added.
When asked about Real Madrid’s start to the season, he added: “The level they deliver is brutal and powerful in all situations. I look at the four defenders I’ll be facing who are strong, fast and handle space well.”
A product of the famed La Fabrica youth academy, Mayoral was a part of the Real Madrid senior side for six years, before being offloaded permanently to Getafe earlier in the summer. During his time at the club, he made 33 competitive appearances for the club.
“I had one year left and decided to disassociate myself from the club that had given me everything. I thought that for my career it was better to leave,” he said when asked about his decision to depart Real Madrid.
However, the attacker admits it will be difficult for him to celebrate at Santiago Bernabeu if he scores against his former club this weekend.
“If you score against Real Madrid, among your fans, it makes you want to celebrate, but I don’t know how I will feel at that moment,” he added.
Mayoral has played against Real Madrid three times in the past, scoring one goal. He ended up on the losing side on two of the occasions, including a 2-0 defeat with Getafe at the backend of last season, when he was on loan with the Azulones.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia
For all the institutional and sporting catastrophes Valencia suffer from, they put up a resilient show against Real Madrid last month and held them to a draw in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup.
Having fired Gennaro Gattuso less than 48 hours ago, Los Che will be under the command of an interim coach at Santiago Bernabeu in the hope of repeating their feat from Saudi Arabia.
After all, they are struggling this season with just 20 points in 18 league appearances.
Valencia may not be the top team it used to be a couple of seasons ago, but there is a fighting spirit to the squad that makes them special.
As Real Madrid looks to make amends for their dropped points against La Real, some important considerations cross the manager’s mind regarding the clash against Los Che.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia.
1. More names at Ancelotti’s disposal
Real Madrid’s long injury list has been a thorn in Carlo Ancelotti’s feet for a long time now. While the manager has had close to five players unavailable through fitness concerns, two names were considered irreplaceable.
Daniel Carvajal is the first on that list. The Spanish International’s presence gave the club hope after Lucas Vazquez’s injury last month, but almost as if planned, the 30-year-old immediately suffered a blow in training and was forced to sit out.
For four games, Ancelotti was thus forced to field Nacho Fernandez as his right-back. The centre-back did a good job at covering out of position, however, will be pushed back to the bench on Thursday as Los Blancos celebrate the return of Carvajal.
The defender is not the only one making his way back, as Aurelien Tchouameni also received the medical all-clear earlier this week.
The French pivot hobbled off an hour into Real Madrid’s league clash against Villarreal in the first week of January and has been sidelined for close to a month.
His absence pushed his coach to try numerous permutations in midfield, but it was finally Eduardo Camavinga who stamped his authority on the position.
With Tchouameni back roaring, his place in the starting lineup seems to be written in stone. One can expect the Frenchman to be deployed alongside Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos for his return to action on Thursday.
2. Concern shifts from right to left-back
The Merengues will finally have a natural right-back available to play against Valencia midweek. However, that does not signal the end of the Italian tactician’s trouble-riddles period.
Just when one full-back position returned to a state of normalcy, Real Madrid now have a crisis at left-back.
Ferland Mendy picked up a thigh injury earlier this week and will miss the team’s next two months of action at least. To say that this is a big blow to the club’s plans would be an understatement, for Mendy was the only natural left-back available in the squad.
David Alaba would appear to be the best-placed alternative, but the Austrian is ruled out through injury himself. Placed at a lack of options, Ancelotti confirmed in his press conference earlier today that Eduardo Camavinga would play there against Valencia.
The youngster has played in the defensive position earlier but will face the heat going up against Jose Luis Gaya at Santiago Bernabeu.
Given that Valencia’s right flank put up a memorable display when the two teams met last month, one can be certain that Camavinga’s performance can make or break Real Madrid’s night.
3. No margin for error
Less than halfway through the league season, Los Blancos already find themselves five points behind Barcelona. The wide gap is not a consequence of the defending champions’ poor form but the sheer consistency of Xavi Hernandez’s men, who cannot stop winning.
Having won the Supercopa de Espana last month, the Catalans are currently riding high on confidence. With their season heading from strength to strength, Real Madrid must hold on and wait for the right opportunity to topple the tables.
The Galacticos‘ draw against Real Sociedad added two points to the gap between the top two sides last week. At this stage, Ancelotti’s men cannot afford any further slip-ups for a larger gap would be too much for the men in white to compensate.
Every game henceforth will be a final for Real Madrid in La Liga. Three points are the bare minimum the club can walk away with from any fixture, and that mission will start from their game against Valencia.