As always with Real Madrid, the off-field drama is just as interesting, maybe even more, than the actual matches they play, especially with the title so far out of reach. Still, their visit to Valencia, the second in a three-games-in-one-week between the two clubs, is more than just Jose Mourinho stirred conflicts.
Yes, the reported “fight” between Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo after the 2-0 win against Valencia in the first leg of their Copa Del Rey clash has taken up most of the headlines regarding the club these past few days. Whether this is some sort of war Mourinho is waging against the club itself or just a fallout that means nothing, I guess it all depends on your flavor considering conspiracy theories.
Let’s not forget the other big question – Antonio Adan is back from his suspension, and that might suggest that Iker Casillas might start on the bench once again. There still is time until Mourinho, loving to keep the cards close to his chest, makes up his mind on whether to cause more controversy and help his players lose focus, or to make the right decision and avoid letting his ego lead the way, choosing Casillas to start.
But there’s a second side to this story, Valencia. After a disappointing start to the season, they find themselves in the middle of a very good run, winning three consecutive league matches and playing rather well against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, which is nothing new to this team who has drawn twice with Real Madrid in the last 15 months when visiting the champions’ home stadium.
It’s also about revenge for Valencia, who feel that the referee had more to do with their defeat midweek in the cup match than Real Madrid’s ability did. The league match serves as an opener to the Mestalla week for both clubs, playing again a few days later in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey clash.
However, Real Madrid have done very well lately when visiting the Mestalla, winning there three consecutive times, scoring 12 goals. The Barcelona loss against Real Sociedad doesn’t mean Real are any closer to the title – a win will bring them to 15 points from the first place. Considering their away form recently (one win in six trips) and Mourinho possibly giving up on the league entirely, don’t expect an easy victory.
Prediction – Another chance to see how human psychology works, and if turmoil and drama triumph over talent. Real Madrid usually rise to the biggest challenges but fall in the most surprising of places. It probably depends what they decide this league match vs Valencia is.