Defensive issues for Solari ahead of Valencia test


Santiago Solari knew that life as Real Madrid manager would not be an easy ride, but following his first defeat last weekend, he now faces a huge La Liga clash against Valencia on Saturday.

The defending European champions were defeated 3-1 away at Eibar in La Liga Game Week 13, ending Solari’s honeymoon period of four unbeaten games in all competitions since taking over from Zinedine Zidane.

The Argentinian welcomed back first team stars Raphael Varane and Marcelo to his defence, following injury, but they were unable to keep Eibar out at the Estadio Municipal de Ipurua.

Injury deprived him of Brazilian defensive midfielder Casemiro, and he opted for Dani Ceballos alongside Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, and Real looked vulnerable in central areas throughout the whole game as a result of Casemiro’s absence.

Los Blancos have managed to keep just four clean sheets in league action so far this season, and Solari, as a former defender himself, has highlighted the need to rectify this defensive instability as soon as possible.

First choice right back Dani Carvajal is easing himself back into first team action following an injury which forced him to miss the World Cup, and he replaced Alvaro Odriozola mid way through the second half against Eibar.

In theory, Solari now has his first choice defence of Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Varane and Marcelo all available as they prepare to host Valencia this weekend, but their current form is a real worry.

Ramos has played alongside different central defensive partners for the majority of this season, and he will need the support of Varane against an in form Valencia attack this weekend.

Marcelino’s side have lost just one of their last 13 games in domestic and European action, and scoring seven goals in their last three games.

Forward Santiago Mina will be the man to keep an eye on for the Real defenders on Saturday, with four goals in his last three appearances, including key goals in the wins over Young Boys and Rayo Vallecano.

However one potential source of confidence for Real ahead of this clash is their record against Valencia in recent seasons.

They have lost just one of their last seven La Liga meetings with Los Che, and they are undefeated against them at the Santiago Bernabeu since 2008.

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