OSASUNA

v

REAL MADRID

Reyno de Navarra

January 30, 2011, 11:30 PM IST

Undoubtedly, La Liga is the most entertaining league in the world with Barcelona entertaining on the pitch and Real Madrid providing pyrotechnics off it. Never a week goes by, when Real Madrid don’t end up hogging the headlines in the newspapers. With Jose there to provide endless torrent of sound bites, it will be no surprise if Marca and AS report a jump of 200% in their net profits at the end of FY10.

A wonderful solo goal, a hotly disputed disallowed goal, signing of a notoriously troublemaking striker, a supposed proclamation by their coach that he is off to England and a sporting director trying to soothe bruised egos: just the usual week at ‘Casa Blanca’.

Before, we delve into the above issues, a word of thanks to Mahamadou Diarra for giving his all whenever he was on the field and being a model professional. Real released an official statement on their website regarding the same.

On the sporting front, Benzema scored a wonderful solo goal against Sevilla to give real Madrid an edge in Copa del Rey. Also Albiol showed great agility and presence of mind to first block the shot using his body and then keeping the ball out with his feet.

For the Madridistas, it was news that everyone had been waiting to hear, but not quite in the way they had expected. Real did sign a ‘9’, but instead of Ruud’s brilliance or Morata’s dedication, one might be watching Adebayor’s antics off the field and mediocrity on it. However, all the Madridistas will be keeping their fingers crossed that everything works out for best.

On the tabloid front, Mourinho supposedly told ‘The Sun’ that he is desperate to come back to England and Perez has already signed Laurent Blanc as his next coach. Although, even Ancelotti is waiting should he get fired. Also, Real officially released a statement condemning the above ‘report’.

Valdano agreed to back off saying he’d do so if that pleases Mourinho. This goes to show just how desperate Real are for Mourinho to stay, and how much team stability is needed to win.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Osasuna

Osasuna have a host of injury problems. Sergio Fernandez is a doubt for the weekend. Nacho Monreal, Ruper and Alvaro Cejudo are still out. Their goal shy and misfiring striker Walter Pandiani was back to full training and can be expected to come on as a substitute. Javad Nekounam and Masoud Shojaei are back after Asian Cup duty with Iran.

They have also sold Juanfran (a real Madrid castilla player) to Atletico. He was arguably their best player and they may struggle with out him.

They too prefer to play a 4-2-3-1 formation or 5-4-1 formation with a sweeper. They have started to put a safety first strategy against bigger teams and it is quite understandable considering their injury problems and limited resources.

Expected strategy

  • In absence of their stalwart defender Nacho Monreal, one can expect an ultra defensive Osasuna, with 10 men behind the ball.
  • Players with good pace may get a start to hit Real on counter.
  • Some physical battles are not unlikely either, with the hostile Reyno de Navarra trying to put the visitors off

Probable Starting Line-up: Ricardo, Flano, Nelson, Josexto, Lolo, Damia, Camunas, Punal, Aranda, Soriano, Coro

Real Madrid

A 4-2-3-1 formation with 2 wingers and a playmaker has become the hallmark of Real Madrid. Although, Osasuna languishes in 17th with just one point above the drop zone, this match has all the makings of a potential banana skin for Real.

They are facing a team which has not won in 8 matches, has been fighting for survival and has always been a tough rival for Real.

Ramos has already gone on record about how intimidating Osasuna’s stadium can be.

Expected strategy:

  • Osasuna will definitely be sitting deep, and this where the role of playmaker will be vital.
  • Real might want some of Kaka’s incisive passing skills to split open the stubborn Osasuna defense. However, since he is not fully fit yet, he will come later in the second half after Ozil’s industry has worn down the home team.
  • Benzema will also be important, and a lot will depend on whether he can display some consistency. He will expected to run and create spaces in which CR7 and Ozil can run into and wreak havoc.
  • Marcelo’s runs will also be very important as he has to take some pressure off Ronaldo.

Probable Starting Line-up: Casillas, Ramos, Carvalho, Albiol, Marcelo, Khedira, Alonso, Di Maria, Ozil, Benzema, Ronaldo

Key Facts

1)      Real has won against Osasuna with a goal difference of greater than 1 only once in last 5 matches

2)      Osasuna have earned only 3 points out of the last available 24.

3)      Real have slipped 4 times this season and each time they were playing away from home.

TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid): The forward has recently scored decisive goals in 2 matches and the spotlight shall be on him to prove that it was not a flash in the pan. His movements and scoring instincts will have to be at their sharpest, if Real are to win. At Osasuna, chances will be available only at premium.

After 2 good games is he now the ‘chosen one’?

Ricardo (Osasuna): A team which is expected to sit back and defend will always require its goalkeeper to function with all pistons firing. He has performed admirably in the recent weeks and can play a defining role in this game.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Osasuna 1-2 Real Madrid

A hard fought win is likely as Real Madrid will be on their toes after a debacle at Almeria. They are unlikely to relax as they realize La Liga is already slipping out of their hands. However, Osasuna can definitely score a goal from a set piece or from Marcelo’s wing.

TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nS7_S6lJ4s8