Real visit Valencia with pressure mounting on Zidane

Real Madrid visit third-placed Valencia on Saturday in the middle of a deepening crisis with pressure mounting on coach Zinedine Zidane following their King’s Cup elimination at the hands of local rivals Leganes.

Saturday

Deportivo             Vs          Levante                 2pm

Valencia                Vs          Real Madrid          5:15pm

Málaga                  Vs          Girona                   7:30pm

Villarreal                Vs          Real Sociedad      9:45pm

Sunday

Leganés                 Vs          Espanyol               1pm

Atlético Madrid   Vs          Las Palmas            5:15pm

Sevilla                    Vs          Getafe                    7:30pm

Barcelona             Vs          Alavés                    9:45pm

Monday

Celta de Vigo        Vs          Real Betis              10pm

MADRID – Real Madrid visit third-placed Valencia on Saturday in the middle of a deepening crisis with pressure mounting on coach Zinedine Zidane following their King’s Cup elimination at the hands of local rivals Leganes.

Real’s dismal start to the season has left them fourth in La Liga, 19 points behind table-toppers Barcelona and five adrift of Saturday’s opponents.

The Liga and European champions face a battle just to secure Champions League football next season with Villarreal just one point behind them in fifth.

With the daunting prospect of facing Paris St Germain in the Champions League next month, Zidane is coming under intense scrutiny after a run in which Real have won just two of their last six games in all competitions.

They have not won at Valencia’s imposing Mestalla stadium since 2013 and the Frenchman says he needs to find an answer to their current woes.

“I’m responsible for this, I’m the boss,” said Zidane. “I have to find the solutions; we’ve found some of them but not consistently enough. I need to take responsibility and I’ll always fight.

“What matters is that we think positively. It’s a blow to take, a fiasco, but 2018 is not over yet. We need to bounce back. We’ve got a big game on Saturday and on Feb. 14 another (against PSG).”

Valencia made it through to the semi-finals of the Cup on Wednesday following a nervy penalty shootout win over Alaves. They will, however, be without injured defender Gabriel Paulista for Saturday’s game.

Barcelona host Alaves on Sunday with an 11-point buffer between themselves and second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Club-record signing Philippe Coutinho could make his debut for the Catalans after recovering from a hamstring problem.

Coach Ernesto Valverde, however, said fellow new arrival Yerry Mina may have to bide his time, despite centre back Thomas Vermaelen’s injury and the departure of Javier Mascherano.

Atletico Madrid will look to put pressure on Barca when Las Palmas visit the Spanish capital earlier on Sunday.

Agencies

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