Real’s chance against depleted Valencia

Real’s chance against depleted Valencia

MADRID • Valencia versus Real Madrid is usually one of the biggest fixtures in Spanish football, but La Liga champions Real will meet a crumbling institution as they look to end their poor recent record at the Mestalla today.

Valencia, six-time La Liga champions and Copa del Rey winners as recently as 2019, are facing financial difficulty off the pitch and left with an ever-falling number of experienced players.

After failing to make any new signings, the club sold Geoffrey Kondogbia to Atletico Madrid last week, making the French midfielder the seventh key player to leave since the end of last season, when they finished ninth.

They are on track to do worse this term, after taking just eight points from eight games.

Coach Javi Gracia, meanwhile, is continuing to lose patience with Singaporean club owner Peter Lim and president Anil Murthy, saying that he is yet to speak to Lim personally and has hardly any contact with Murthy.

He offered his resignation last month but withdrew it, after hearing he would have to pay €3 million (S$4.8 million) to end his contract. He also lashed out at the club for selling Kondogbia behind his back.

“I got a call from the president to tell me the player wasn’t leaving, so words fail me,” he said after last week’s 2-2 draw with Getafe.

The situation has become so desperate that former captain David Albelda is now just crossing his fingers that the club do not get relegated.

Real have won only one of their last six trips to Valencia but head there feeling confident, after a vital 3-2 win over Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday.

However, the team said yesterday that midfielder Casemiro and forward Eden Hazard have tested positive for Covid-19.

They added that all other first-team players and coaching staff, as well as employees who work directly with them, had returned negative tests.

REUTERS

VALENCIA V REAL MADRID

Singtel TV Ch109 & StarHub Ch213, tomorrow, 3.55am