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Real Madrid v Deportivo La Coruna
Primera Liga Match Preview
A routine fixture has now become one of the biggest games of the European football weekend, as new Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane makes his bow at the Santiago Bernabéu against Deportivo La Coruna.
ZIZOU REALISES A DREAM AFTER REPLACING BENITEZ
French superstar Zinedine Zidane replaced Rafael Benitez at the helm of Real Madrid on Monday after the Spaniard was sacked, following last weekend’s 2-2 draw in Valencia. The 43-year-old has now come full circle from being what President Florentino Perez described as his “greatest ever signing” for the club, to a place on what is undoubtedly the hottest seat in European football. The best online sports betting sites currently price them at *5.50 to lift the league title in May. As the world’s media went into overdrive about just how well the former World Cup winner will do in charge of some of the most famous footballers on the planet, Perez himself faced strong criticism from certain quarters, about his choice to succeed a man who was never really given a chance at the Bernabéu since his appointment last summer. The Frenchman has been promoted from the clubs B team Real Madrid Castilla, where he has been learning his trade as a coach. Being able to handle the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema however, will be a whole new ball game.
DEPORTIVO LOOKING TO SPOIL ZIDANE’S CORONATION
Amongst all the hype surrounding the new man at Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna arrive in the capital on Saturday looking to be more than just bit part players in the latest Los Blancos soap opera. Coach Víctor Sánchez has been doing some diligent work at the club from North Western Spain and his team still hold out hopes to finish in at least a Europa League spot at the end of the current campaign. Last weekend’s heart-breaking 2-1 home defeat to Villarreal (thanks to a controversial last minute penalty) was a bitter pill to swallow for Sánchez and ended an eight match unbeaten run in the league (which included coming back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Barcelona at the Camp Nou). He will now be looking for a response from his players in the cauldron atmosphere of the Bernabéu.
All eyes will be on Zidane’s first team selection where he will be without midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who was sent-off last weekend at the Mestalla. Spanish defender Sergio Ramos should be at his disposal despite an injury scare earlier this week, with Raphael Varane expected to partner him in the heart of the defence. Colombian James Rodriguez, who was left out in Benitez’s final match in charge, should return to the midfield. The best football betting sites will offer you *4.33 for him to open or complete the scoring on Saturday evening.
The visitors have injury worries ahead of the trip south with Cani, Alejandro Arribas and FedeCartabia all struggling for fitness. Albert Lopo is expected to deputise in the back four for Sánchez’s team. The other choice the coach has to make is who to play at left midfield between Luis Alberto and Luisinho. The latter has a more defensive style of game and this could get him the vote on Saturday.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Real Madrid (4-3-3) Navas; Marcelo, Varane, Ramos, Danilo; Rodriguez, Kroos, Modric; Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale
Deportivo La Coruna (4-2-3-1) Lux; Navarro, Arribas, Sidnei, Laure; Bergantiños, Mosquera; Luisinho, Fajr,Juanfran; Pérez
HEAD TO HEAD
Los Blancos are unbeaten against Deportivo in their last nine meetings having won eight and drawn the other. Marcelo, Ronaldo and Benzema all made their Real debuts against Saturday’s opponents and are all yet to end up on the losing side against them. Deportivo’s last victory at the Santiago Bernabéu came way back in October 2004. Last season’s corresponding fixture finished 2-0 to the hosts thanks to goals from Isco and Benzema.
Real Madrid 1.12 Draw 9.00 Deportivo La Coruna 19.00
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)