Madrid, Nov 18: Real Madrid will look to overcome the effects of jetlag and tired legs when they travel to play third placed Valencia in the Spanish La Liga football Saturday night.
The return to league action after the international break always poses problems for sides who have had players away on international duty and Real Madrid have suffered more than many with players such as Gonzalo Higuain, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso all making transatlantic flights during the week.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe were both involved in Portugal’s European Championship qualifying tie against Bosnia Herzegovina over the past fortnight.
Valencia are currently third in the league table and a win for Madrid take the league leaders eight points clear of their rivals and would once again open up the debate as to whether or not the Spanish league has been reduced to a two-horse race between Madrid and Barcelona, Xinhua reported.
Valencia will be highly motivated for the game, especially given that last season they lost 6-3 at home to Madrid in the same fixture in what was their worst display of the season in a match they had trailed 5-0 at halftime.
The home side are without key midfielder Banega, who is out for a month with a knee injury. Real Madrid have lost winger Angel di Maria with a torn hamstring.
Di Maria set up Madrid’s first three goals in the 7-1 win over Osasuna a fortnight ago and has a total of 10 league assists for the season. He will be missed, but his absence could allow Karim Benzema and Higuain to play together in the Madrid attack, or give Javier Callejon a place in the starting line up.
Valencia will look to top scorer Roberto Soldado, who is highly motivated against his former club, while central defenders Adil Rami and Victor Ruiz should provide Madrid’s strikers with the sternest test of the season to date.