Estadio Santiago Bernabeu,Madrid
February 6, 2011, 18:00 GMT
It’s another weekend in Spanish football and Real Madrid take on Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu. With Real Madrid losing ground on Barcelona, it is absolutely necessary for Real Madrid to win this match to ensure that they can hope to catch the Catalan giants in case they slip up, but such a scenario looks bleak as times ticks on. Real Madrid are not in a purple patch and seem to eke out results only in binary digits except against Sevilla midweek in the Copa Del Rey semifinal.
Real Madrid weren’t particularly imposing against Sevilla and this is indeed a cause of concern for Madridistas. The swagger Los Blancos displayed at the start of the season seems to be missing and the team looks to be out of rhythm. But Jose Mourinho is a seasoned coach having seen all such situations in his impeccable career and would try to devise a strategy to arrest this slide in fortunes of the Casablanca before the Champions League clash against Lyon. Also, considering the Real Madrid will face the Catalan giants Barcelona twice in a week in the league and the Copa Del Rey, it is necessary for Mourinho to start working on his various strategies to counter the might of the Catalans.
Team News and Tactical brief
Real Madrid: After beating Sevilla in the last 10 minutes of the match, Mourinho would want the Real Madrid strikers to be clinical. Benzema missed a sitter when a Di Maria shot bounced off the post and Ronaldo, of all people, blew a one on one with goal keeper. Ronaldo hasn’t scored in the last few games and the Real Madrid score sheet seems to be drying up. Ronaldo needs to hit the ground running as as soon as possible, as Lyon will be tough opponents in UCL. Benzema seems to have got his confidence after the signing of Adebayor and has even earned praise from Mourinho for his on-field antics. After tirelessly requesting the Real Madrid hierarchy for a striker, Mourinho has got Adebayor and the Togo striker displayed his capabilities by smashing a stunning volley after controlling the ball on his chest and ensured that Real Madrid progressed to the final of the Copa Del Rey without any nervous moments. Surely, he would have to play a part in this game most probably as a substitute.
Ozil has been the most consistent performer so far this season and he would be hoping to keep going in the same vein and Di Maria’s inclusion in the starting XI is assured. The other Real Madrid superstar, Kaka, hasn’t exactly set the Bernabeu on fire with his performances and would be hoping to get some minutes on the pitch but his competitor, Esteban Granero, seems to be making the most of his chances and his performances in the midfield have been impressive. Khedira’s super through pass set up Ozil’s goal against Sevilla and he would be looking to replicate the same performance this weekend. His performances lately had been criticized but the German midfielder has responded to his critics with an assured display on the field.
Real Madrid’s defense looks depleted because of the injury to Pepe and suspension to Ramos, but the club has an able back up in Arbeloa on the right. Raul Albiol hasn’t been particularly impressive but his goal line clearance against Sevilla might be enough to secure another start. But he needs to be more in control of himself and support Carvalho as much as he can. Marcelo and Casillas look certain to make the cut.
Reports have emerged between an altercation between Gago and Leon on the training field and both of them were left out of the squad sparking speculations of a disciplinary action against them. It remains to be seen if they will be a part of the squad that will face Real Sociedad.
Expected Starting line-up: Casillas, Arbeloa, Albiol, Carvalho, Marcelo, Alonso, Khedira, Ozil, Di Maria, Benzema.
Real Sociedad: Real Sociedad are a depleted side due to the injury to their hitman, Joseba Llorente, who is expected to miss the entire season. Real Sociedad defeated Almeria last week but even they would be content with a draw at the Bernabeu. They currently stand ninth in the table and are real contenders for a Europa League spot.
Real Sociedad have this ability to cause upsets as they defeated Getafe 4-0 but went down 1-2 in a well contested match against Villarreal. The visitors have an efficient playmaker in Xabi Prieto and Raul Tamudo looks in ominous form as well having scored a goal and assisting the other, in their win against Almeria. But, the visitors will have in mind the imperious home record of Los Merengues and can be expected to give a good fight but a major upset looks highly unlikely.
Expected Starting line-up: Claudio, DeLaBella, Gorostole, Labaka, Zurutuza, Urkola, Gutierrez, Estrada, Prieto, Tamudo, Griezmann.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
The arrival of Adebayor seems to have added an extra spring in Karim Benzema’s step. He looks more lively and more involved in the game than before. He will look to ensure a starting place on the team as the primary hitman in Gonzalo Higuain’s absence. Expect him to crack a few goals at home.
Real Madrid 3 -0 Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad are undoubtedly a dangerous side, but it would take something extraordinary from the away team to cause an upset at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
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