On Sunday, European champions Real Madrid travel to a realm that the mighty Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have failed to conquer. Celta Vigo’s season hasn’t quite taken off like they’d have hoped. Celeticos are 12th in the league with 14 points, just three less than sixth placed Real Madrid.
Los Blancos head into the fixture on the back of a 2-0 win against Real Valladolid and Celta Vigo played out an entertaining 3-3 against Real Betis at Villamarin.
This crucial tie at Balaidos will be Santiago Solari’s first real test and the Spaniard will need all hands on deck trying to stop Celta Vigo’s flamboyant duo of Maxi Gomez and Iago Aspas.
We take a look at some of the players who might make a difference.
Late bloomer Iago Aspas has picked up from where he left off last season and has eight goals this season already. The Spaniard has built a formidable partnership with Maxi Gomez and can prove to be too much for the fragile Madrid back line to contain, especially on the counter.
Sergio Ramos has been inconsistent this term and Nacho still looks unsettled. An in-form Aspas can surely punish Madrid’s back line.
Pure striker? Playmaker? Maxi Gomez has got it all. The young Uruguayan has six goals and four assists to his name this campaign and has been the best player for Celta Vigo. The 22-year-old likes to drop deep and look for his striking partner Aspas.
Gomez is fresh from a brace against Real Betis and has scored or assisted in six of the nine league games he’s played this season. Watch out for his headers and lobbed passes that finds Aspas on the shoulder.
After a string of poor performances, Benzema finally caught a break against Viktoria Plzen. The Frenchman scored a quick brace and was taken off just after half-time. This should provide a boost for the underperforming forward who can rattle any defence on his day.
Celta Vigo centre-halves Facunda Roncaglia and Gustavo Cabral will find themselves occupied by the 30-year-old. The pair conceded three in their last game and have displayed that they can’t deal well with target-men. Benzema will be looking to leave his mark.
The German failed to replicate his form from last season in the World Cup and instead replicated his form from football’s global showpiece in the league games this season. Always credited for his creativity and partnership with Luka Modric, Kroos has deservedly received flak for underperforming this season.
However, the 2014 World Cup winner bossed the midfield against Viktoria Plzen and will look to build on it as he takes on an unstable Celta Vigo midfield. With Stanislav Lobotka out injured, the Sky Blues have a deep void to fill in the midfield. Fate has already given Kroos a head-start, it’s up to him to make the most of it.
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