May 4, 2001. That was the last time Celta Vigo beat Real Madrid in Galicia. So much for "home-field advantage."
The team that turned Claude Makalele into a world class holding midfielder before selling him to Real Madrid will try to end that drought this Wednesday.
When the reigning La Liga champions head to northern Spain for the first leg of their Copa del Rey Round of 16 tie, it will be a chance for them to continue more than a decade of dominance.
Of course, the Galicians did beat the Spanish giants at the Santiago Bernabeu in November of 2006, so there is a bit more hope on the return leg, I suppose.
Real Madrid Roster News
For Madrid, getting a win in the first leg will do much more than keep their record intact, it will also allow Jose Mourinho to rest some key players in the return leg.
Knowing how important those early points will be, Mourinho is likely to field a strong lineup on Wednesday.
Raphael Varane will probably start in place of either Ramos or Pepe, but few other regulars will start on the bench.
Fabio Coentrao trained with the team this week after pulling his hamstring two weeks ago. He may start, but Mourinho is just as likely to field Arbeloa at left-back with Varane out right.
Celta Vigo Roster News
Celta's only major question marks are in attack and central defense.
Paco Herrera will have two rested forwards who could spell Iago Aspas in attack. That would greatly weaken the side, though, with Aspas being the primary scorer and creator of goals this season.
Gustavo Cabral also did not play this past weekend in Vigo's loss to Athletic Bilbao and should see himself back in the starting XI.
Preview and Prediction
Celta have two relative advantages this Wednesday. First, they will be playing in front of their home crowd.
Second, Os Celestes do not have to play again until next Monday, so they will be able to field their strongest possible starting XI.
Unfortunately, neither advantage is that great.
Over 10 years of defeat at home will do almost nothing to inspire confidence or much of a moral boost entering the match.
It should be pointed out that their last home loss to Madrid was back in 2007, and none of the current players will have that record hanging over their heads. The organization will, though.
As for the rest, that is not going to make much difference.
If Mourinho did not start a single regular in this match, Madrid would still have the stronger team. Celta is unlikely to even get that small benefit.
The Galicians will try their best just to limit damage in order to play for that key away goal in the second leg, but Madrid are just too good and will likely be very open in attack.
I think the 2-0 win from earlier this season was a closer result than it seemed, but Madrid are unlikely to suffer so much a second time.
The visitors should win, but it won't be easy. I'd say another two-goal victory with a maximum of one goal allowed is in order.
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