Real Madrid will look to make it a third victory over Valencia in just eight days and secure their place in the semifinals of the Cop del Rey at the Mestalla on Wednesday.
With a 2-0 lead from the first leg at the Bernabeu last week, Madrid are in the relaxed position of knowing that the onus is on Valencia to attack. On Sunday, Madrid picked Valencia off almost at will as they recorded an impressive 5-0 victory away from home.
Despite that win couple with a defeat for Barcelona, Madrid remain 15 points off the summit in La Liga and realistically are now just playing for the Champions League and Copa del Rey trophies this season.
Madrid are still unbeaten at the start of 2013, having won four out of their five matches. But it was Sunday’s performance that reminded everyone that, despite a difficult campaign, on their day Madrid remain one of the world’s best teams.
“We were in a rough spot,” admitted midfielder Sami Khedira, according to Real Madrid’s official website. “We weren’t doing well. We talked about it together and we’ve seen everything that went wrong. We’ve worked hard these past weeks and I think we’re moving in the right direction. We’re playing well, really tight, and I think it’s going to give us future results.”
Already in a strong position in the tie, Madrid should also be boosted by having won on their last five visits to the Mestalla. But Khedira is taking nothing for granted.
“We’re going to have to start all over as if it were 0-0,” he explained. “We have to show the same aggressiveness to play well and win as we did on Sunday. The last match was for La Liga and this is for the Copa. It’s different and we have to go all out to try and win.
“We won the first leg 2-0 but it’s not a definitive result. We have to go for a goal there. We haven’t ceded any goals in our last few matches and that makes us stronger. We have to win the match and to do that we have to play on the offense.”
The challenge is a daunting one for Valencia. There must be plenty of regrets from a first leg in which they were the better team for much of the contest but missed a string of chances.
Both sides are expected to field strong teams, although Madrid will again be without defenders Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Marcelo.
D: R. Costa. Rami, Ruiz, Guardado
M: Gago, Banega
Jonas, T. Costa, Piatti
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Varane, Carvalho, Coentrao
M: Khedira, Alonso
Di Maria, Modric, Ronaldo
Prediction: Valencia were unfortunate to emerge from the first leg with a deficit, but now are really up against it to mount a comeback. Madrid’s counter-attacking prowess is perfectly equipped to pick off a Valencia team that will be forced to push high up the pitch. There could be plenty of goals on display, with Madrid again coming out on top.
Valencia 1-3 Real Madrid
Where to watch: The Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg will kick-off from the Mestalla at 3.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.