Real Madrid v Valencia – Santiago Bernabéu at 15:15
Real Madrid bounced back from their dramatic Clasico loss to score twice in the first 14 minutes away to Deportivo la Coruna on Wednesday before going on to claim an empathic 6-2 triumph at the Riazor to keep their La Liga title challenge on track.
Head coach Zinedine Zidane had the luxury of leaving Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema at home as he rotated his troops. James Rodriguez and Isco were given starts yet even in their impressive win, one that was never seriously in doubt, there were signs of the problems that have afflicted them this season
Real’s poor defensive record
Defensively Los Blancos are sloppy. They simply cannot be relied upon to keep a clean sheet and although Sergio Ramos returns from suspension to start at centre-half here, Nacho could be given a rest leaving Real Madrid’s backline again below-par.
Real have taken just a point from their last two games at the Bernabeu but those encounters came against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Remove their two rivals at the top of the table and Los Blancos have W12-D3-L0 on home soil this season in La Liga, though they’ve kept just five clean sheets.
Shutting out opposition attacks might not be a priority when the team has scored in 57 successive matches but it does suggest Madrid have an inability to control games. Yet despite the negatives, the capital club’s only loss in 14 came in the Clasico last weekend.
Bogey team Valencia
On Saturday afternoon the hosts take on Valencia. The visitors suffered a 3-2 home defeat to Real Sociedad in midweek to remain rooted in mid-table but Eliaquim Mangala and Dani Parejo return from suspension here with the Bats keen to ruffle a few feathers in Madrid.
Los Che have proven somewhat of a bogey team for Real in recent times, losing just one of the last six league games between these two. Valencia beat Madrid at Mestalla earlier this campaign and have avoided defeat in four of their last six trips to the Bernabeu.
Indeed, the guests tend to perform well against the league’s elite. Although they’ve lost eight of their last 11 at top-six teams, only two of those losses were by more than a one-goal margin as Valencia scored in nine of those contests.
Los Che have scored at least twice in each of their last seven encounters against Madrid and in seven of their past eight matches against Barca or Real. Considering the hosts’ rotten defensive record, as well as the fact that Valencia have notched in 13 of their 17 away days this term, Voro’s men should be capable of getting at least a goal in the capital.
The betting angle
Madrid should be good enough to claim another vital victory but I don’t anticipate a walkover here. Only six of the hosts’ 12 triumphs on home soil have been by more than a solitary strike and six of Valencia’s 10 away defeats have been by similarly slime margins.
With that in mind, backing Valencia with a +2.5 start on the Asian Handicap line at 1.94 appeals. It’s proven profitable in each of the past eight meetings between the two teams with Madrid’s last win over Valencia by three goals or more at the Bernabeu dating back to 2003, a run of 15 matches.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Valencia +2.5 Asian Handicap at 1.94
Prices correct at time of writing.