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Preview: Real Madrid away




A stern test awaits Pucela tomorrow as they make the journey southwest to the capital city to take on Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.

Real Valladolid have not won at that stadium since Victor’s 18th minute goal gave them a 1-0 victory in the final match of the 1999/2000 season. Since then, Madrid have prevailed on nine out of the ten subsequent home meetings, drawing once, by a combined score of 37 goals to 14, including scoring seven goals in two separate matches.

In the last ten meetings overall between these sides, los blancos have an advantage of eight wins to one (a 1-0 win at the José Zorrilla in November 2008 courtesy of a Fabian Canobbio goal being Pucela’s last success), with a solitary draw.

Madrid are historically strong at home and have not lost their first league fixture on their own patch since 2005 and have gone ten wins and three draws since.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Real Valladolid, however. Last season’s match at the Bernabéu was one of their better performances. They met in November 2018 and, despite coming away emptyhanded following a 2-0 defeat, Pucela gave a good account of themselves. They were extremely well-disciplined in defence and constantly stifled the home side which frustrated the crowd. The breakthrough came with only seven minutes remaining when Vinicius Jr.’s wild shot hit Kiko Olivas on its way to the corner flag, and this deflection was enough to wrongfoot Jordi Masip. The young Brazilian had the audacity to claim the goal as his own, his first in the white jersey. Five minutes later, Real Madrid were – rather unsurprisingly – awarded a soft penalty which Sergio Ramos dispatched. It was a disappointing end to a positive performance where Real Valladolid had kept their shape well and even showed confidence going forward on the counterattack. Toni Villa was unlucky not to score in the second half when he crashed his long-range shot back off the bar with the goalkeeper beaten.

In the second meeting last year, Zinedine Zidane’s side left the José Zorrilla with all three points after a bizarre match. The home side had been awarded a penalty with less than a quarter of an hour played, when Adrian Odriozola pulled down Óscar Plano, but the opportunity was squandered by Rubén Alcaraz who blazed his spot-kick high over the bar. Sergi Guardiola put the ball in the back of the net twice in quick succession, as Madrid looked shell-shocked, but both times the goals were annulled via VAR for marginal offside decisions. Finally, Anuar broke the deadlock when Keko swung in a ball from the right flank and Guardiola’s touch put it into the path of the young midfielder and he swept home past Thibaut Courtois to edge Pucela in front. The away team pulled level on 34 minutes as Masip made heavy weather of clearing the ball in a busy penalty area and it fell kindly to Raphael Varane to tap in from close range. After the restart, Madrid were given the chance to go ahead from the penalty spot. Óscar Plano and Odriozola tangled again in the penalty area but, this time, it was the home player who had fouled his opponent and Karim Benzema slotted home his penalty. The Frenchman grabbed his second, and his team’s third of the night, minutes later as he outjumped Alcaraz and Kiko Olivas to power in a header. Guardiola’s misfortune continued when he struck the post with a deft, angled volley from a corner with Courtois beaten. Luca Modric wrapped up the scoring with five minutes to play after coolly slotting low past Masip from an angle. The score somewhat flattered Madrid and Real Valladolid were unfortunate to not have more to show for their endeavours.

We will not delve too deeply into an analysis of Real Madrid and what the future may hold for them this season as there is a saturation of coverage regarding all the tears, tantrums and tiaras of the capital side. Suffice to say it has been yet another summer of mini-dramas and over-spending as they seek to claw their way back into contention following a relatively disastrous season in 2018/19 when they finished far off the pace and did not even have a Champions League conquest to console themselves with. Big names arrived in the shape Eden Hazard from Chelsea, Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt, Eder Militão from Porto, Ferland Mendy from Lyon and Rodrygo from Santos. The total from this shopping list exceeded €300 million and was balanced (to an extent) by the sales of Mateo Kovacic to Chelsea, Marcos Llorente to city rivals Atlético, former Real Valladolid loanee Raúl de Tomás even fetched €20 million by Benfica, as did Theo Hernández who left for Milan. Sergio Reguilón and Dani Ceballos were loaned to Sevilla and Arsenal respectively. As with most of the marquee players during the summer transfer window, Real Madrid have been linked to a move for perennial pain-in-the-neck Neymar as he seeks to orchestrate his exit from PSG. The want-away infant has drawn copious amounts of attention from rivals Barcelona, who sold the player to the French champions in 2017. Much talk over prodigious talent Takefusa Kubo centred over the possibility of him coming to the José Zorrilla on loan to join winger Jorge De Frutos, defender Javi Sánchez and goalkeeper Andriy Lunin – who all swapped the white jersey for the purple and white of Pucela for this season – but it was announced in the last few days that he will spend the season on loan at newly-promoted Mallorca. Martin Ødegaard, who was speculated to join Pucela on loan last year, has gone to Real Sociedad for the duration of the campaign.

Los blancos did not have the smoothest of pre-seasons; winning just four of their seven warm-up matches. This included being humiliated by rivals Atlético in New York City by a score of 7-3 at the end of July. However, when the season began last week, Zidane’s men navigated a tricky away test at Celta Vigo and left Balaídos with a 3-1 win. Karim Benzema got his season off to a roaring start with a goal after 12 minutes. Toni Kroos crashed in a long-range golazo on the hour to double the advantage and Lucas added the third with ten minutes to play, having come on as a replacement for Vinicius Jr. 11 minutes prior. Surprisingly, Gareth Bale started the match and played well. Despite being publicly criticised by Zidane during the off-season, a potential move to China did not happen and the Welshman remained at the club. He will look to take advantage of the injuries to Brahim Díaz, Hazard, Rodrygo, the long-term absence of Marco Asensio and the suspension of Modric – who was dismissed in the Celta match – to stake a claim for more playing time.

Spirits are high in the Real Valladolid camp after last week’s 2-1 win at Real Betis to kick off the campaign. The only negatives to come from the match were the early departure of striker Sandro through injury, followed onto the bench by Alcaraz who pulled up with a knock in the second half. Both of these players will miss tomorrow’s match in addition to Pablo Hervías and left-back Fede Barba, who must wait a bit longer to make his full debut for the club as he continues to serve a suspension hanging over from last season in Italy. Long-term injury sufferer Luismi continues to work his way back and the mysterious Stiven Plaza has a knee-injury and will not feature.

Manager Sergio has called up the following players for tomorrow’s trip: goalkeepers Jordi Masip and Andriy Lunin; defenders Pedro Porro, Kiko Olivas, Javi Moyano, Antoñito, Nacho, Joaquín and Salisu; midfielders Anuar, Óscar Plano, Fede San Emetorio, Toni Villa, Míchel and Waldo; forwards Sergi Guardiola, Enes Ünal and there is a first place in the squad this season for Miguel.

It would be fair to expect a similar style of play from when the sides met back in November at the Bernabéu; soaking up the pressure from Madrid while attempting to find good fortune on the counterattack or from a set-piece. This could be a double-edged sword however; the longer the game goes with no score, the more the home fans will voice their displeasure and put the team under pressure, however, the more the Madrid theatrics will come into play and the chances of a soft penalty award increase.

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