23.04.2011, 21:30 IST kick-off
It has been an amazing few days for Madridistas. After a humiliating 5-0 loss at the Camp Nou, Real Madrid have bounced back. After a hard fought draw in the second Clasico at Santiago Bernabeu, Los Galacticos finally ended their trophy drought by beating FC Barcelona 1-0 courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo (Yes, he does have the ability to score against Barcelona apparently) in a tense and thrilling battle, in which each half was dominated by one another. Jorge Valdano called it a heroic accomplishment, while Perez noted that they showed the world who is on top. Real Madrid celebrated the victory with 150000 fans at the Cibeles; the party continued till dawn, as We are the Champions boomed from the loud speakers amid plenty of fireworks.
The focus now shifts to the next set of Clasicos, obviously the most important ones of the season; but before that, Real Madrid need to make the trip again to Mestalla to take on Valencia for a very crucial match. Real Madrid’s confidence will be high after winning the Copa Del Rey in eighteen years, and they would love to continue their momentum by beating the third best team in the Liga. Roberto Soldado has confirmed that his team would give the guard of honor for the newly-crowned Copa del Rey winners at the Mestalla.
Valencia has been in fine form, having won their last three matches, including an unbelievable 5-0 thrashing of Villarreal. Unai Emery has been a fine manager, leading his players and coping extremely well with the departure of the two Davids-Villa and Silva. Valencia are six points ahead of Villarreal, and would like to keep the same distance with only six games to go for the season. If Valencia manage to win five more times, it would give them their highest point tally ever in the La Liga – the previous being 77 points accumulated under Rafa Benitez, on their way to La Liga glory in 2002-03.
Team News and Tactical brief:
In Unai Emery, they have a shrewd tactician who gave Barcelona a run for their money. With Soldado in great form and Juan Mata playing the perfect role of a supporting striker, Valencia can be threatening. Mata and Soldado are both Real Madrid academy players, and would be looking to prove to the hierarchy how wrong they were in letting the duo leave.
Providing Mata and Soldado the necessary support from the midfield, Ever Banega would be the key to keep the ball moving ahead for Los Che. Mehmet Topal has had two very good games against Villarreal and Almeria, and is certain to start beside Banega. Joaquin did not start against Villarreal and Almeria, but came off the bench to register a assist against Almeria. Emery will be tempted to start Joaquin, as he brings creativity to the team from the right. Pablo Hernandez is expected to line up on the left, and would be looking to switch flanks when required and cause the Madrid defense lots of problems. Jérémy Mathieu, Ricardo Costa, Marius Stankevicius and Miguel will complete Los Che defense with Guaita in goal.
Valencia can play a high tempo game and have the ability to pressurize opponents by pressing relentlessly. They did the same against Barcelona by passing the ball around faster, and would be looking for an encore against the might of Real Madrid.
Expected Starting XI:Guaita;Miguel,Costa,Stankevicius,Mathieu;Joaquin,Topal,Banega,Hernandez;Mata,Soldado
Barcelona threw everything they had at Real Madrid, but the latter did not flinch even once. They held their lines and defended their zones brilliantly in their victory against Barcelona. Mourinho would look to iron out the defects, if any, in his flawless defensive organization. But the real question is, will Mourinho play with an eye on the Champions’ League semifinals? If he does, expect players like Pepe and Di Maria to be rested. Granero might start for Los Blancos in midfield beside Sami Khedira.
Carvalho is suspended for the CL semifinal first leg and would definitely start, as would Raul Albiol after missing the Copa final. Marcelo and Arbeloa might start as full backs in case Mourinho decides to give Sergio Ramos a breather. It would be interesting to see how Mourinho approaches this game, as their approach would decide the outcome. Ozil, Kaka and Benzema will most probably start beside Ronaldo and provide some fireworks in attack. The trio will be keen to prove a point to the special one ahead of the all-important CL clash, and would be looking for a starting place in the XI against Barcelona.
Valencia will undoubtedly look to play the ball faster and the fans would be cheering for them. Real Madrid must look to control the pace of the game and move the ball around to creators like Ozil and Kaka, to open up Valencia’s defense and score goals. The defense has to be very vigilant, as Valencia’s attack is very formidable and all would depend mostly on how Ricardo Carvalho leads the defensive line. And in case Valencia manage to breach the Real defense, the visitors have Saint Iker guarding.
TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out:
The German has impressed everyone with his outings against Barcelona. Fans and neutrals have been assured that Real Madrid have a potential ballon D’Or winner in their ranks. Ozil would be looking to turn on the style to dispel any further doubts regarding his ability, and more importantly command a starting place against Barcelona in Clasico part 3.
Los Blancos know that a very precious talent escaped their academy. Mata has been sensational for Valencia, scoring goals and setting up his team mates. His mazy runs and ball control are superb, and Unai Emery will be looking at Mata to provide the necessary offensive impetus if they are serious about beating the Copa Del Rey champions.
Valencia 1 – 2 Real Madrid
Valencia at the Mestalla is very tough. But the vistors would be coming back to the Mestalla with very fond memories; they would look to continue their winning momentum and send a warning signal to the Blaugrana ahead of the most anticipated match of the season.