Real Madrid will be gunning for their third win of the 2023/24 La Liga season when they face off against Celta Vigo away at Abanca-Balaídos later tonight.
Despite there being many changes to the squad, Los Blancos have made a solid start to the new campaign thus far, with two victories in two matches against Athletic Club and UD Almeria.
The aim will be to extend their 100% run and put some early pressure on rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, both of whom have already dropped a few points.
While Celta Vigo will not be an easy opposition by any means, Real Madrid’s recent record against the Galicians away from home bodes well for Carlo Ancelotti & co.
Indeed, Los Blancos have won each of their previous five matches at Balaidos and have not lost any of their previous ten games at Celta Vigo’s home ground across all competitions.
In fact, Real Madrid are unbeaten in their previous 14 matches against the Galician outfit in all competitions (home and away) since a 2-1 defeat in January 2017 in the Copa del Rey (W11 D3).
Speaking on the eve of the game, Celta Vigo manager Rafael Benitez spoke about the impressive start that Real Madrid new boy Jude Bellingham has made to life in Spain.
The 20-year-old is the man in form for Los Blancos and will pose the biggest threat to the home team tonight.
After all, in his two appearances for Real Madrid in La Liga, Bellingham has scored three goals and registered an assist, averaging a goal contribution every 43 minutes.
Another player to watch out for in tonight’s game at Balaidos would be Toni Kroos, who enjoys a stellar record against Celta.
Indeed, the veteran midfielder enjoys playing against the Galicians, having scored six goals in 16 games against them – the most by the German against a single team. He also has four assists in those appearances.
Tonight’s game will be a special occasion for a certain Kepa Arrizabalaga as he is all set to make his debut for Real Madrid.
The contest against Celta Vigo will mark the 28-year-old Chelsea loanee’s first match in La Liga in five years, with his last game coming back in May 2018 for Athletic Club against Espanyol.
Vinicius Jr will not be back for Real Madrid’s derby vs Atletico this weekend
Real Madrid will come up against their biggest test of the 2023/24 season so far this weekend when they lock horns with neighbours Atletico Madrid.
However, they will once again have to face the challenge without one of their main players in the form of Vinicius Jr, reports Sergio Quirante.
No risks with Vinicius
Vinicius picked up an injury during Real Madrid’s third La Liga game of the season against Celta Vigo, following which he was subbed off.
The 23-year-old has since missed the last three matches against Getafe, Real Sociedad, and Union Berlin.
Reports earlier this week suggested that Vinicius had resumed training individually with the ball, which gave hopes that the attacker might make an early comeback in time for the derby against Atletico.
The Brazilian international has worked very hard to try and bring forward his return date and is closing in on making a comeback.
But Real Madrid are not prepared to take any risks with their star attacker. As such, he will not be rushed back for the derby against Atletico Madrid this week.
Who else will be absent?
Apart from Vinicius, Real Madrid are set to be without four other players, as Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao, Arda Guler, and Dani Carvajal are also out with injuries.
Guler is close to a return, with the Turkish wonderkid expected to resume training with the team on Monday. As for Carvajal, he will undergo fresh scans tomorrow to determine the extent of his injury.
Atletico Madrid, too, have some injuries heading into the game, with young prospect Pablo Barrios among those set to be unavailable for the derby.