The international break is over, La Liga is coming back and for Real Madrid, that means a visit from Celta Vigo.
Los Blancos are top of the table heading into the gameweek and are unbeaten in their first three matches, although performances have been wildly inconsistent. Most recently, Real laboured to a 1-0 win over Real Betis, which came a week after they needed a late equaliser to snatch a chaotic 3-3 draw with Levante.
They’ll fancy their chances against Celta, who are still searching for their first victory of the campaign and have failed to score in either of their last two games.
Here’s 90min‘s preview of the game.
When is it?: Sunday 12 September, 20:00 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Santiago Bernabeu
TV Channel? La Liga TV (UK), ESPN+ (US)
Referee? Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez
Carlo Ancelotti’s squad has been decimated by the chaos surrounding South American internationals this week. At the back, Eder Militao is unavailable and likely to be replaced by Nacho, but it’s in midfield where the boss’ biggest issues lie.
Fede Valverde and Casemiro are both likely to miss out after returning from international duty late, so they could join the injured duo of Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos on the sidelines.
With Luka Modric still battling back to full fitness from his own issue, Ancelotti will likely hand a debut to new signing Eduardo Camavinga, who could line up alongside Isco and young Antonio Blanco.
Unfortunately for Eduardo Coudet, he’ll likely have to find a way to cope without star midfielder Renato Tapia. The Peruvian has been busy during the international break and is unlikely to make it back in time.
Jeison Murillo is expected to make his first appearance of the season for Celta after returning to the club on loan on deadline day.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Nacho, Alaba, Gutierrez; Camavinga, Blanco, Isco; Bale, Benzema, Hazard.
Celta Vigo: Dituro; Mallo, Araujo, Aidoo, Galan; Mendez, Beltran, Suarez, Nolito; Aspas, Mina.
The history books are overwhelmingly in Real’s favour when it comes to meetings between these two teams.
Last year, Los Blancos did the double over Celta, winning 2-0 in January and 3-1 in March. They have won six of the last seven league meetings, with the only blip coming in the shape of a 2-2 draw in February 2020.
For Celta’s last victory over Real, you have to go back to the 2-1 win in the 2016/17 Copa del Rey quarter-final. As far as league action goes, Celta are without a win against Real since 2014 – a run of 14 games which also includes 6-0 and 7-1 losses.
Real might be a bit short-handed this week, but they should still have more than enough about them to see off this struggling Celta side.
Ancelotti has a strong defence and an in-form forward line, and that should be more than enough to compensate for the makeshift midfield and steer Real to another three points and keep their perfect start alive.
Celta will hope to do put up a good fight in the midfield battle, but they just don’t look like they have enough to get a positive result here.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-0 Celta Vigo