This evening the Santiago Bernabéu kicks off 2022, as Real Madrid welcome Valencia on matchday 20 of LaLiga (9 pm CET), which will be the team’s first game of the new year in front of their home fans. The hosts will be looking to secure the spoils in order to maintain or increase their lead over Sevilla at the top of the league table to head off to Saudi Arabia for the Spanish Super Cup full of confidence.
After progressing from the Copa del Rey knock-out tie against Alcoyano, Carlo Ancelotti‘s focus will now be on this weekend’s opponents and he will be hoping his side can add to their fine run of results against Valencia on home soil which has seen the Whites remain unbeaten in the last three games. As usual, Karim Benzema was the star performer with three goals in two of these clashes.
Video.First game of the year at the Santiago Bernabéu
“We have to get back to playing like we were before Christmas”, said Ancelotti in the press conference ahead of the clash, which sees the return of Vini Jr. to the Madrid squad. The partnership formed by the Brazilian and Benzema proved to be decisive in the reverse fixture earlier this season, which saw our side move to the top of the table at Mestalla. Fifteen matchdays later and the Whites remain in first place.
The visitors currently sit two points off the European spots in ninth place as Bordalás’s side go into the clash. Valencia also secured their place in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey this week, but last time out in LaLiga they slipped to defeat against Espanyol. Valencia’s two top goal scorers are Guedes (6) and Soler (7), but the latter has been ruled out of the game through injury.