Valencia can heap more misery on Real Madrid when the two teams meet at the Mestalla Stadium in La Liga on Saturday.
Los Che are third in the table, five points ahead of Real, with the champions having played a game less.
Getting back in the title race demands Los Blancos taking all three points on their travels. A win would also ease the not-inconsiderable pressure on manager Zinedine Zidane, after Real were dumped out of the Copa del Rey on away goals at the quarter-final stage by Leganes on Wednesday.
Before a preview, here are the schedule and viewing details:
Date: Saturday, January 27
Time: 3:15 p.m. GMT, 10:15 a.m. ET
TV Info: beIN Sports
Live Stream: beIN Sports CONNECT, fubo Premier
Expect Real to start their main men after resting Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale for the shock defeat to Leganes. The Wales international, in particular, was in fine form last time out in the league, scoring twice during the 7-1 win over Deportivo La Coruna last weekend.
Yet ESPN FC’s Dermot Corrigan defended the decision to leave him out for cup duty:
Bale’s lengthy injury history means Zidane is wise to proceed with caution regarding his minutes. However, with one less trophy to play for, Los Merengues need their full range of firepower in Valencia.
Ronaldo was also on the scoresheet twice against Depor, before making a bloodied exit from the pitch. Goals have been tougher to come by for the usually prolific forward this season, with Real even holding meetings between senior figures to find solutions for his deteriorating form, per Marca‘s Jose Felix Diaz.
Ronaldo could get back to his best against a Valencia defence depleted by recent disciplinary issues. Los Che saw Gabriel Paulista and Ruben Vezo receive red cards during last week’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas.
What Valencia will need is for holding midfielders Geoffrey Kondogbia and former Arsenal man Francis Coquelin to cut off the supply to Bale and Ronaldo.
Los Che will have their own attacking threat in the form of strikers Simone Zaza and Luciano Vietto. Manager Marcelino is never shy about playing two up top and will be keen to test out a Real defence that has been shaky in recent weeks, despite skipper Sergio Ramos returning against Leganes.
Both sides have slipped up recently in different competitions, but Los Blancos will have enough pace and power if Ronaldo and Bale start to earn a huge confidence-boosting win.