What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Real Madrid vs Valencia
When: Sunday 19th August, 2012, at 18:00 UK time
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
Heading into his third season as Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho knows that he has two objectives ahead: The first is to successfully defend the league crown as his side prepare to tussle with Barcelona once again; the second will be to ensure that Real Madrid leave Wembley next May as ten-time Champions League winners.
Real Madrid have not brought in any new players yet over the summer, but have shown in their pre-season preparations that they are ready to fight for all honours next season, with teams such as LA Galaxy and AC Milan playing witness to Los Blancos’ might. Besides the Spanish stars that were successful at Euro 2012, the likes of Angel di Maria, Jose Callejon and even the exit-linked Kaka demonstrated that they are more than ready for the new season.
As the first match of the new La Liga campaign, this could set the tone for what is to come and Los Blancos will surely be wary of Valencia, who have laid claim to being the third best team in La Liga. However, Real Madrid have helped themselves to goals galore against Los Che in recent times and Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain have managed ten goals between them in the last six meetings between the two clubs.
Last season though Valencia drew here, 0-0, in a surprise result and would gladly take more of the same.
Winning The Game
Knowing that mounting a legitimate title challenge is all but impossible, Valencia will want to maintain their third place in La Liga. Here Los Che know that Real Madrid may need to be off colour for points to be grabbed, but they also need to hit the ground running too.
The 2004 La Liga winners have lost some players over the summer, notably Mehmet Topal and Jordi Alba, but have lured the likes of Andres Guardado, Fernando Gago and Sergio Canales in return. The latter two are particularly expected to show their colours at the Mestalla and, after a disappointing time with Real Madrid, should be keen to demonstrate what they can do, especially here.
Another former Real Madrid player, Daniel Parejo, revealed that Valencia will go for the win in the Spanish capital. “Playing at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid is always special, I’ve been there, I’ve lived there, but I do not think about it anymore. I’m here and the team are very good, very strong and really looking forward to the game, and will try to get three points.”
Real Madrid 2-1 Santos Laguna (05/08; Friendly)
Real Madrid 5-1 AC Milan (08/08; Friendly)
Real Madrid 2-0 Celtic (11/08; Friendly)
Indonesia All Stars 0-5 Valencia (04/08; Friendly)
Valencia 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur (09/08; Friendly)
Eintracht Frankfurt 4-2 Valencia (11/08; Friendly)
Players to watch
Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo: The Portugal captain has been improving year after year at Real Madrid, and helping his side to win the Champions League this season would cement his status as a true legend. Against Valencia, he will want to continue his fine form from Euro 2012.
Valencia – Adil Rami: The French stopper was arguably the finest centre-back in Spain last season, always producing top notch performances. Now in his second season at Valencia, Rami kicks off the festivities with a personal duel against countryman Karim Benzema, another player eager to impress.
This match is crucial for Real Madrid going into the new season, as they prepare to meet cup holders Barcelona days later in the Super Cup. Valencia will be desperate to come away from the Bernabeu with something – but that looks difficult. Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia.
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