Estadio José Rico Pérez, Alicante
October 30th, 2010 – 11:30 PM IST
After another disappointing showing in the Copa Del Rey, Real Madrid faces a stern test against a team that has a habit of gulping down big fishes. However, it won’t be easy for Hercules, as Real Madrid are in an exuberant form in the league having thrashed the likes of Deportivo, Malaga, and Racing recently. Yet Hercules might complete a hat trick of upsets if they manage to defeat Real Madrid at the Estadio José Rico Pérez.
On 11th September this year, Hercules pulled of one of the shocks of the decade when they travelled to the Nou Camp and dismantled the Blaugrana rearguard not once, but twice. Not only that, but they also kept their illustrious opponents from scoring. If you think that was some achievement, three weeks later they repeated the same score line at their home against Sevilla.
Although they have been struggling against the likes of lesser opponents Getafe and Almeria, there’s no doubting that they have a taste for big teams. And it doesn’t get any bigger than Real Madrid in the Spanish League. Striker Nelson Valdez is confident and optimistic that he and his teammates can repeat their heroic performances against Real Madrid as well. One more win against a big team and Hercules might justify their name and might find themselves as a celebrated figure all around Spain.
Real Madrid’s away form has not been up to their standards this season. On the opening day, they struggled to break down Mallorca. They also struggled to break down Real Sociedad and Levante in the following few weeks. But a fortnight ago, they thrashed Malaga in what was a solid performance. The midweek disappointment in the Copa Del Rey won’t do any good, but the Blancos have to realize the importance of the fixture against Hercules and pull up their socks if they don’t want to be on the wrong side of another upset. Mourinho will recall his main men Ozil, Carvalho, Marcelo, and Xabi Alonso back in to the squad. Real Madrid have no time or comfort to get complacent as they look to retain leadership in the league ahead of an important journey to Milan.
Team News And Tactical Brief
Esteban Vigo will call up his most talented men and line up the strongest team against the Capital giants. Farinos, Trezeguet, and Nelson Valdez have all shared in the scoring department with four goals each. So it shouldn’t be a problem for Vigo upfront. Hercules plays a straight forward 4-4-2 formation with Calata in goal, shielded by the back four of Cortes, Abraham Cruz, Pamarot, and Romero. Tapia and Fritzler provide the defensive cover in midfield for the hosts. Drenthe is the main man that provides width for the home team but since he is on loan from Real Madrid, the rules won’t allow him to play against them. Rufete, the ex-Valencia winger will look to cause plenty of problems for Marcelo on the right and will also look to provide some good crosses for his strikers. On the other wing, Keko might start. There are plenty of options available for Hercules up front. From Javier Portillo, the Real Madrid youth team product, to David Trezeguet, the seasoned legend, Hercules are spoilt for choices. But Vigo might start with David Trezeguet and Nelson Valdez. Expect Hercules to absorb pressure and counter Real Madrid in breakneck speed.
Probable Starting XI – Calata; Cortes-Cruz-Pamarot-Romero; Rufete-Tapia-Fritzler-Keko; Valdez-Trezeguet
There are very few men struggling with injuries for Real Madrid. Sergio Ramos, after recovering from his ankle injury, is back and started against Murcia in midweek. Ozil, Xabi Alonso, Marcelo, and Carvalho will be back from their well-deserved rest in midweek. Higuain, Khedira, and Di Maria will also start after they came off the bench against Murcia. The front four of Higuain, Di Maria, Ronaldo, and Ozil should work functionally creating spaces for each other and shooting on goal plenty of times. But it is Xabi Alonso and Khedira who hold the key to the game. Hercules, known for their lightning quick counter attacks will be trying to make the most of what will be far and few opportunities. It is here where Khedira and Alonso will have their hands full as they will have to stop the hosts from advancing to the final third. Alonso might also have to unlock the Hercules defence by his dead accurate passing if it starts getting tough for Ozil, Ronaldo and co. Ramos and Marcelo will be advised by Mourinho not to surge forward too much as that might give Hercules plenty of width to explore.
Probable Starting XI – Casillas; Ramos-Pepe-Carvalho-Marcelo; Alonso-Khedira; Di Maria-Ozil-Ronaldo; Higuain
Real Madrid: D-W-W-W-W
1. Hercules has managed to beat both Barcelona and Sevilla in this campaign. They also drew against Villarreal.
2. Real Madrid are unbeaten so far this campaign. No team has come even remotely close to beating them. This is the best start to a league campaign for the Galacticos ever.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
There’s no doubting that Ronaldo is back to his best, scoring goals for fun. He has already scored ten goals in eight league games. Any doubts of his selfishness can be put aside, as he is also the top assist leader in the league. Ronaldo will be looking to add to his impressive tally and help Real Madrid to remain top in the league standings.
Hercules 1-3 Real Madrid
There’s certainly no dearth of goals for both the teams. Real Madrid has scored 16 goals in the last three games. But they have also conceded one each in the last three. This should be an exciting contest with plenty of end-to-end stuff. Although Hercules beat Sevilla and Barcelona, it’s hard to see them go past Real Madrid to clinch full three points in this game. Hercules though, might just make it difficult for the visitors.