May 8, 2016 at 4pm UK at ​Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 72,987
Real Madrid
3-2
Valencia
Ronaldo (26', 59'), Benzema (43')
Casemiro (52')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Rodrigo (55'), Gomes (81')
Perez (13'), Siqueira (39'), Gomes (43'), Fuego (69')
Rodrigo (85')

Preview: Real Madrid vs. Valencia

Sports Mole previews Sunday's La Liga clash between Real Madrid and Valencia at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid will be out of the La Liga title race on the penultimate weekend of the season if they fail to beat Valencia on Sunday and league leaders Barcelona overcome Catalan rivals Espanyol.

As it stands, Los Blancos sit third in the table on 84 points, but they are just one point off leaders Barcelona and indeed one from second-placed Atletico, who are in action against basement side Levante this weekend.


Real Madrid

Gareth Bale celebrates with his Real Madrid teammates after opening the scoring in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester City on May 4, 2016© Getty Images

There was not too much optimism at Real Madrid when Rafael Benitez was confirmed as manager at the start of the season and for long spells, it did appear that Los Blancos were heading for a trophyless campaign.

Zinedine Zidane has had a couple of hiccups at the helm, but the Frenchman has led his team back into title contention courtesy of 10 straight league wins. In March, Real Madrid were 15 points off the summit, but they are now just one point behind entering the final two matches.

As mentioned, Real Madrid would be out of the race if they failed to beat Valencia and Barcelona won at home to Espanyol, but victory would leave them in with a chance ahead of their final league game away at Deportivo La Coruna next weekend.

Due to the fact that Real Madrid need two teams to slip up in the final two weeks, it does appear that the league title will be beyond them for another season. Zidane has led his side into the Champions League final, however, courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Manchester City at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

Los Blancos have only actually lost one of their last 15 games in all competitions and they boast the best home record in the league this season – winning 15 of their 18 matches and scoring 67 times in the process.

What's more, Zidane's team have not conceded in three of their last four league games at the Bernabeu and have scored an average of 4.5 goals per game in the process.

Cristiano Ronaldo is currently four goals behind Barcelona's Luis Suarez in the scoring charts in Spain's top flight this season, but the Portuguese will be confident of adding to his tally this weekend. Meanwhile, Gareth Bale is arguably playing the best football since moving to Spain in 2013.

Recent form: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDWW


Valencia

Valencia players celebrate taking the lead during the La Liga game between Barcelona and Valencia on April 17, 2016© AFP

Played 36, won 11, drawn 11 and lost 14. That is how Valencia have performed in La Liga this season and a total of 44 points has left them in ninth position in the table with two games left to play in the 2015-16 campaign.

Just once in La Liga history have Valencia collected 44 points or fewer at this stage of the season and that was during the 1987-88 campaign. The experiment of Gary Neville just did not work and there is no question that it has been a very disappointing season for a club that were supposed to challenge for fourth.

Pako Ayestaran is currently in charge of first-team affairs at the Mestalla, but chairman Peter Lim will appoint a new manager at the end of the season and current Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini is said to be in the frame.

Valencia have actually won three of their last five in the league, but they were held to a 2-2 draw at struggling Getafe at the end of last month, before losing 2-0 at home to Villarreal at the weekend.

Los Che could still finish eighth this season if they enjoy a positive end to the season, but their failure to challenge for at least a Europa League spot will have to go down as a serious disappointment when considering the investment.

Entering this weekend's match, Valencia have lost exactly half of their 18 away league games this season, while they have also struggled at home – dropping points in 12 of their 18 fixtures at the Mestalla.

Valencia have not actually finished lower than eighth in Spain's top flight since the 2007-08 season, when they ended the campaign in 10th. They have only been outside the top five on one occasion since then, but they are only battling for a top-half finish this time around.

Recent form: LWWWDL


Team News

Cristiano Ronaldo looks downbeat during the Champions League quarter-final between Wolfsburg and Real Madrid on April 6, 2016© Getty Images

Zidane is expected to make changes from the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night, with Danilo and Raphael Varane both pushing for returns.

James Rodriguez could also come into the team, but the match will come too soon for Casemiro and Karim Benzema, who remain on the sidelines with hip and hamstring problems respectively.

Gareth Bale is also unavailable due to a slight knee problem, while an Achilles injury could keep out goalkeeper Keylor Navas, allowing Kiko Casilla to come in for a rare start.

Ronaldo is also expected to keep his spot in the final third after coming through the Man City match unscathed following a thigh problem.

As for Valencia, Enzo Perez, Paco Alcacer and Aymen Abdennour are all expected to return after missing out on the XI against Villarreal last time out.

Andre Gomes and Dani Parejo should keep their spots in the middle of the park, while Santi Mina is expected to get the nod in the final third due to Denis Cheryshev's ineligibility against his parent club.

Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Casilla; Danilo, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, James; Vasquez, Ronaldo, Jese

Valencia possible starting lineup:
Alves; Cancelo, Mustafi, Abdennour, Siqueira; Perez, Gomes, Parejo; Rodrigo, Alcacer, Mina


Head To Head

Real Madrid have lost just one of their last 13 league games against Valencia, but have gone four without a win – drawing three times in the process.

Incredibly, the last four league games between these two teams at the Bernabeu have finished in draws – including 2-2 in their last meeting in the Spanish capital in May 2015.

The score was also 2-2 when the pair met at the Mestalla in the reverse league match earlier this season.


Sports Mole Logo 40px height

We say: Real Madrid 2-0 Valencia

There might well be some tired legs in the Real Madrid camp following their exertions in the Champions League, but it is difficult to imagine Valencia putting a spanner in the works this weekend. We are backing Los Blancos to keep Barcelona and Atletico honest on the final matchday of the season.


Who will triumph at the Bernabeu this weekend?

Real Madrid
Draw
Valencia
Real Madrid
79.9%
Draw
14.1%
Valencia
6.0%
Gareth Bale celebrates with Pepe during the game between Real Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna on January 9, 2016
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona372845109298088
2Real Madrid372764108347487
3Atletico MadridAtletico37274661184385
4Villarreal371810944331164
5Celta Vigo37179115157-660
6Athletic Bilbao371781255441159
7Sevilla371410135047352
8Malaga371112143434045
9Real Sociedad37129164448-445
10Las PalmasLas Palmas37128174449-544
11Valencia371111154647-144
12EibarEibar371110164757-1043
13Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo37818114559-1442
14Real Betis371012153251-1942
15Espanyol37117193672-3640
16Granada37109184666-2039
17Getafe3799193665-2936
18Sporting GijonSporting Gijon3799193862-2436
19Rayo Vallecano37811184972-2335
RLevante3788213667-3132