Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
May 22, 2011; 18:00 GMT
As a moderately successful season comes to an end, Real Madrid will host Almeria at their home. Almeria are at the bottom of the table and have the 3rd worst defensive record, the 2nd worst goals scored tally and have won the least number of matches this season in La Liga. However, the last time these two sides met, Almeria managed a 1-1 draw against their exalted rivals.
For some Real Madrid players it will definitely be the last match that they will be part of Real Madrid squad. Dudek and Gago are already on their way out. Pedro Leon, Canales, Diarra and Adebayor are also likely to leave in the summer.
Almeria, on the other hand, are preparing for life in second division and need some serious re-building if they are to challenge for another stint in La Primera. Despite sacking their previous manager, the form hasn’t improved and the Andalucian side have won just 1 out of their last 5 matches.
Team News and Tactical Brief
As the clamour for youth players grows in the capital side, Jose Mourinho has resorted to handing out bits and pieces of minutes to every player in Castilla. Consistent with this policy Joselu, Mandi and Jesus have been called up for this match. While superficially it may seem that Jose has started to trust Real Madrid youth players, his signings prove otherwise. Nuri Sahin and Altintop are the players in line to replace some of the departing members instead of the players from ‘Cantera’.
On the team news front, all three defensive midfielders in the team, namely Diarra, Khedira and Gago are injured which has prompted Mourinho to call upon Mandi who also plays a similar role for Castilla.
Casillas, Higuain, Di Maria, Marcelo, Adan and Garay have all been left out due to technical decisions.
As the club has decided not to renew the contract of Dudek, this will be his last match of an uneventful stint at Real Madrid.
More than anything else, one man has been hogging the limelight during the pre-match buildup: Cristiano Ronaldo. Real released an interview in which the previous record holder Hugo Sanchez is shown shaking hands with Ronaldo and wishing him luck to break his record.
It is unlikely that any of the “irregulars” or youth players will be starting initially as the focus will be to ensure that Ronaldo reaches the 40 goal mark and scores at least a brace in order to overtake Lionel Messi in the goals scored section.
Probable line-up (4-2-3-1) Dudek; Ramos, Pepe, Carvalho, Arbeloa; Granero, Alonso, Ozil, Kaka, Ronaldo; Benzema.
Almeria managed to salvage some pride when they finally won a match against Mallorca by a 3-1 scorline. However, this result was not enough to prevent humiliation in another form when their talented goalkeeper Diego Alves announced that he will be joining Valencia for the next season.
On the injury front, Modeste M’bami and Michel will be unavailable due to long term injuries. Hernan Bernadello is back after serving out a one match ban due to suspension.
There is nothing much at stake for Almeria as far as this match is concerned except for pride. They have been fairly decent on their travels and ironically it is their home form which has lead to this situation.
Probable formation (5-4-1): Suarez Esteban; Badias, Pellerano, Silva Henrique, Antonio Rodriguez, Acasiete; Corona, Juanito, Pablo Piatti, Juan Ortiz; Uche.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): This match is all about one man and one man only: Cristiano Ronaldo. Under any given year if a player scores more than 50 goals, the whole world would be talking about him. Tragically for Ronaldo, the whole world is talking about Messi. Even if Ronaldo creates history by scoring the maximum goals ever in La Liga season, he won’t win the FIFA player of the year trophy.
He will look to score at least a brace and win both the “Pichichi” trophy as well as the golden boot, and outscore Messi.
Real Madrid 3-0 Almeria
When two teams who essentially have nothing to lose meet, the outcome is an entertaining match as both sets of players play with abandon. However, with the injuries taking their toll and with Almeria’s interim coach Roberto Olabe preferring to play 5 defenders in each match, a hard fought encounter may also be on the cards.
Real Madrid will be looking to play an entertaining match in order to thank their fans for their support throughout this season, and scoring plenty of goals will be an ideal way to that.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST