El Madrigal, Villarreal
15 May 2011; 1900 GMT
After two brilliant outings against Sevilla and Getafe, Real Madrid travel to El Madrigal for their penultimate game of the season. This season has seen Los Blancos lift the Copa Del Rey while crashing out in the CL semifinal against Barcelona. However, their La Liga display has been kind of wobbly, largely due to this being Mourinho’s first season and his identification of strengths and weakness of individuals in his team. Next year, it promises to be a cracking season-long contest as the core will be the same while additions such as Nuri Sahin and Jose Maria Callejon will only enhance the game play of the Casa Blanca.
Before the next season starts, Mourinho would like to end this season on a very positive note and more importantly on a triumphant note as such an end could give the necessary impetus for the next season. This match is also very crucial for Cristiano Ronaldo who seems to be the front runner for Trofeo Pichichi. His astonishing seven goals in the last two games have seen him move five goals ahead of Messi and only two behind Hugo Sanchez’s 38.
Similarly, Villarreal have had a topsy-turvy season. They started off brilliantly in this campaign and then withered away. They did make their way to the Europa semifinals but were blown away by Villas-Boas’ amazing Porto squad 5-1. Also, they suffered a shock 5-0 loss against Valencia which blew any chances of them finishing third. Now they seem to be set for Champions League football next season, but even they would know that they shot themselves in the foot this season because it was their best chance to overtake Valencia for that coveted automatic CL spot. Nevertheless, it has been an amazing season for the Yellow Submarine and a win against Real Madrid would make their season even more memorable and could set the foundation for their CL quest next season.
Team News and Tactical brief
The visiting team will have only one agenda in mind – to make sure Ronaldo equals Sanchez’s record or even create a new benchmark for La Liga. Higuain openly admitted that his side’s aim against Getafe was to make sure Ronaldo gets as many goals as possible to win the Pichichi and Ozil’s assist to Ronaldo instead of putting the ball into an open net to further the substantiated the claims.
Mourinho went with Adan and Mejias resting Casillas and Dudek against Getafe. Mourinho could ask Adan to start again to build his confidence as he would take over from Dudek as the reserve goalkeeper next year. Other than this, no major change is expected on the defensive front.
Xabi Alonso could play alongside Lassana Diarra as reports of Juventus interested in Lass have started making rounds. Real Madrid could look to play Diarra in order to command a better price for the Frenchman. Kaka featured alongside Ronaldo and Ozil in the attacking midfield and they wreaked havoc against Getafe. After a tweet by Kaka’s mother, rumours of Kaka leaving for Stamford bridge have intensified and those rumours could either be squashed or pick momentum depending on Kaka’s contribution in this game.
Benzema will be expected to lead the front line as he was dropped to the bench in mid-week, in favour of Higuain but he did manage to score a beauty courtesy a glorious pass from Alonso. Adebayor’s future still remains to be sorted but everyone seems confused with his appearances on the pitch. It looks as if Mourinho wants Adebayor in his squad next season but the authorities don’t seem to favour such a costly move for the Togo striker.
Probably starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Adan, Ramos, Pepe, Carvalho, Marcelo, Diarra , Alonso, Ronaldo, Ozil, Kaka, Benzema
Juan Carlos Garrido will know that Real Madrid would come all guns blazing at them. His biggest worry would be the performances of his defensive mid fielder, Marcos Senna. The Spaniard has delivered under average in the last two matches and this might prompt Garrido to over haul his formation.
Because Villarreal would be playing at home, they might play more attacking because a loss wont hurt them much. Villarreal play better when they attack and this would prompt Garrido to think on those lines. But high back lines would need to be avoided as Valencia paid a heavy price for doing so. So, deep backline but a spread out offense could augur well for the home side. Garrido might be tempted to drop Senna to the bench and start with Rossi,Cani and Nilmar.
This means that Borja Valero will have his task cut out as the primary play maker and either of the three strikers need to drop deeper to get the ball and move forward. It could be an interesting tactic as it would keep the Real Madrid defense on their toes and prevent players like Marcelo or Ramos to bombard forward.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Diego Lopez, Gaspar, Musacchio, Marchena, Capdevilla, Cazorla,Valero, Soriano, Nilmar, Cani, Rossi
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
The Portuguese winger looks all set to eclipse Hugo Sanchez’s record and create a new benchmark in La Liga. He needs only two more goals to equal the great man. All his team mates seem very content in providing Ronaldo with necessary support to win the Pichcichi. With 49 goals in the campaign so far, he would be looking to cross the 50 goal mark and draw closer to Lionel Messi. He would be the biggest threat for the Villarreal defense as he is in a ruthless mood, judging by his performances in the recent matches.
TheHardTackle’s FUN FACT
Villarreal’s population is just over 50,000 and it is amazing that El Madrigal which houses a capacity of 25,000 is nearly full for most of the matches. It speaks volumes about Villarreal’s love for football.
Villarreal 1- 3 Real Madrid