Real Madrid vs. Valencia: 5 players who must shine on Sunday

Real Madrid, Nacho Fernandez (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Nacho Fernandez (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

GK Thibaut Courtois

We have seen Thibaut Courtois come up big against Valencia in the past, though the match at the Mestalla was not his night for reasons outside of his control. How could he have planned for Marcelo’s worst game of the season and a string of defensive errors that created the environment for three penalties?

Courtois will want to make a statement with a clean sheet on his own home turf this Sunday. Valencia have some very good attackers in Maxi Gomez, Carlos Soler, and Goncalo Guedes, but the reality is that Real Madrid’s midfield, defense, and goalkeeper should be on a different class, even when factoring in the uncertainty at right back due to injuries (as well as Ramos’ absence).

Expect Courtois to make a couple of more jaw-dropping saves, even though he’s been so good that, in his book, he has made the extraordinary look routine to Madridistas.

RW Marco Asensio

Finally, we come to Marco Asensio, who is subtly recovering his form and playing with more confidence and skill in the final third. We are starting to see the technical quality blossom. It has always been there, but something has been missing from Asensio’s game this season. It is that magic touch that we saw in the summer when he scored and assisted upon his return against this very team, needing just one touch to find the back of the net in dream-like fashion.

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Maybe Asensio will have his breakout performance of 2020-2021 at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano against Valencia, serving as a bit of a callback to the summertime for Madridistas. The matchup against Valencia’s all-world left back Jose Gaya is not an easy one, but the Real Madrid attacking midfielder has drawn six fouls with six key passes in his last two La Liga matches, having scored prior to those two fixtures against Levante, per He is hungry to make an impact in the second half of the campaign.