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La Liga 2022-23: Real Madrid eye three points against managerless Valencia

Madrid (Spain), Feb 1 (IANS) Real Madrid on Thursday night have the chance to strengthen their position in second place in La Liga by piling some hurt on managerless Valencia.

Valencia travel to the Santiago Bernabeu with club stalwart ‘Voro’ Gonzalez in temporary charge after Gennaro Gattuso left the club ‘by mutual consent’ on Monday for a string of bad results leaving them just a point above the relegation zone.

Thursday’s match is part of the 17th round of matches in La Liga and was postponed earlier this month as the twor sides met in the semifinal of the Spanish Supercup in Saudi Arabia.

That game should give Valencia some hope of getting something from the Bernabeu, as they twice came from behind in Saudi Arabia to draw 2-2, before eventually succumbing on penalties to Madrid.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side receives Valencia after being held to a 0-0 draw by Real Sociedad, who are just three points behind them in La Liga, and a win would strengthen their position ahead of an intense couple of months, with the World Club Cup, the Copa del Rey semifinals against FC Barcelona and the return of the Champions League all slotting alongside their league fixtures.

Ancelotti is missing injured duo Ferland Mendy and Lucas Vazquez. Either David Alaba or Nacho Fernandez will fill Mendy’s vacancy.

Winger Vinicius Jr will make his 200th appearance for the club on Thursday and goes into the game looking to score his 50th goal. Karim Benzema and either Rodrygo or Fede Valverde will offer support in the attack, while Aurelien Tchouameni has a chance of returning in midfield after injury.

With FC Barcelona playing Betis on Wednesday night, Real Madrid could be eight points off the top of the table when they kick off on Thursday, but if Barca slip up, a win would see them close the gap to two or three points.