Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid will travel to Balaidos on Saturday to clash with Celta Vigo in their first game of the LaLiga season 2019/20.
Having won the league title last in 2017, Los Merengues will aim to kickstart their campaign to wrestle back the title from Barcelona with a win, while also looking to capitalize on their rivals’ loss to Athletic Bilbao yesterday.
Both Celta Vigo and Real Madrid have had a season to forget as they look to commence in their new campaign. Celta Vigo narrowly avoided relegation by five points, finishing in the 17th position, thanks to some last-minute magic from Fran Escriba, who became the manager in March.
Real Madrid also had a turbulent 208/19 season after they reinstated Zinedine Zidane as the manager following abysmal spells of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. The Merengues finished 19 points behind winners Barcelona in the LaLiga, also bowing out of the Champions League in the Round of 16.
Real Madrid also faced a lackadaisical preseason and will be more than desperate to amend their mistakes with a positive start.
New summer signing and academy product Santi Mina is set to miss the clash due to a minor ankle injury. In his stead, Gabriel Fernandez could partner club legend Iago Aspas upfront.
Escriba will also have to make do without Sergio Alvarez, David Junca and captain Hugo Mallo, who are all sidelined with injuries. In place of Junca and Mallo, Lucas Olaza and Kevin Vazquez are set to occupy the full-back positions.
Joseph Aidoo could be set for a competitive debut alongside the experienced Nestor Araujo.
Brais Mendes, Fran Beltran, Stanislav Lobotka and Dennis Suarez are set to occupy the midfield seats, aiming to break the opposition’s attacks and create goalscoring chances.
Zinedine Zidane has too much on his platter to worry about, given the long list of injured players in his squad. New acquisition Ferland Mendy is set to miss the opening game while winger Ibrahim Diaz is also unavailable. However, the injury concerns don’t end here, as Eden Hazard has taken a knock and will have to wait for a month to make his LaLiga debut.
Marco Asensio is injured for the long term while Dani Carvajal has also been deemed unfit to play. Alvaro Odriozola could be deployed in the right-back place in Carvajal’s absence, while injury to Mendy means Marcelo is bound to keep his place.
Zinedine Zidane used a 3-5-2 in the closing stages of the preseason, and should he retain the system, Luka Jovic could make the starting XI. He could partner with Karim Benzema while the midfield trio of Modric, Kroos and Casemiro will try to create chances.
Celta Vigo (4-4-2): Blanco; Kevin Vazquez, Araujo, Aidoo, Olaza; Suarez, Beltran, Lobotka, Mendez; Aspas, Fernandez
Real Madrid (3-5-2): Courtois; Militao, Varane, Ramos; Odriozola, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Marcelo; Jovic, Benzema
Saturday’s clash will be the 33rd time the two sides will have met. Real Madrid dominates the head-to-head record, winning 21 of those matches, with Celta victorious on just seven occasions (D4).
The fixture has been a goal-fest in recent years, with Real Madrid’s last five visits to Balaidos producing a staggering 25 goals.
Real Madrid’s defensive record away from home is anything but positive, with Los Blancos managing to keep just two clean sheets in their last 23 La Liga games on the road.
Celta Vigo has won four, drawn four and lost four games in the 12 competitive fixtures that Fran Escriba has overseen since being appointed as the manager in March.
Iago Aspas has scored nine goals in his last nine La Liga appearances for Celta Vigo.
Celta Vigo 1- 2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid have a long list of injuries to tend to, but the remaining squad comprises of great talent and experience that can easily oversee a challenge by Celta Vigo. The home side will look to salvage at least a point, but Real Madrid’s strength coupled with tactical nous of Zinedine Zidane could be enough to grab the three points and top the LaLiga table.
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