Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the La Liga game against Osasuna, December 14. Reuters
Real Madrid will look to finish 2013 on a high when they visit Valencia in the La Liga on Sunday.
Carlo Ancelotti's men disappointed last weekend, only managing a 2-2 draw against Osasuna, which put them five points behind Barcelona and eight adrift of Atletico Madrid, who continued their tremendous run with a 3-2 victory over Levante on Saturday.
A victory on Sunday will be paramount to ensure Real don't finish the year too far behind their rivals. "It's an important match at an important moment because it's the last of the year," Ancelotti said. "It's an important match at an important moment because we want to end the year well, playing quality football and picking up the three points. We've had good results there in the past, but every match is different and it'll be difficult."
Real Madrid will not know what to expect from Valencia with the Spanish side firing their manager Miroslav Djukic last week, with youth coach Nico Estevez handed interim charge, and Ancelotti, therefore, is not taking three points from the Mestalla for granted.
"Valencia has changed manager and we're going to be playing against a team that is motivated and focused, because that's what happens when the manager changes," Ancelotti added.
Real have struggled away from home this season in the La Liga, emphasised by that draw at Osasuna last weekend and Ancelotti, while insisting the problem is not too alarming, knows there are a couple of issues that need to be addressed.
"We've played good matches, but it's normal for it to be more complicated to win away games," the Italian said. "It was strange against Osasuna because the first 30 minutes were very good. We started out well and tomorrow we have to continue playing well in order to win."
Ancelotti will have to do without the services of the in-form Gareth Bale, who has been ruled out of the clash, while the Italian manager also has a bit of a defensive crisis with central defenders Raphael Varane and Pepe set to miss out through injury and suspension respectively.
That is likely to give youngster Nacho a chance to shine at the back yet again, while the Real manager also insisted he would continue to pick Xabi Alonso in his starting lineup despite reports suggesting the midfielder was hesitant to sign a new deal.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 1.30am IST start on early Monday morning with live coverage on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD2. You can also catch the match live online in India HERE. Viewers in the US can live stream the match HERE, while UK viewers can catch the action HERE. To watch the match through live streaming in North Africa and the Middle East click HERE.
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