Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
May 13, 2012 ; 23:30 IST
The feeling in Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu, especially on the day this match will be played, will be hard to describe in words. After their most gruelling campaign in years, Real Madrid will finally lay their hands on the La Liga trophy after their wait of four years.
Jose Mourinho has confirmed that he will stay put in the Spanish capital which means another shot at the Champions’ League. It is very hard to criticize Mourinho in this campaign, a duration throughout which he has had his moments of madness and genius but the way he has conducted himself through out the campaign post the Spanish Super Cup fiasco has to be lauded. Mourinho’s side has broken many records on their way to glory and another victory will break the century barrier in terms of points – a feat never achieved before.
After the sacking of Michael Laudrup, Mallorca appointed Joaquín Caparrós, the former Athletic Bilbao coach and the appointment has proved to be successful. Mallorca have won their previous four matches and are strong contenders for a Europa League spot currently. A victory against Real Madrid will consolidate their position and reward them a place in the Europa League, which was previously rescinded in 2010 owing to their financial difficulties.
Team News And Tactical Brief
The feeling of holding the trophy at the end of the match will be weighing on the player’s mind. Against Granada, they looked absent and seemed hungover from their victory celebrations at the Cibeles.
It is also difficult to predict the team which Mourinho will send out against Mallorca. Will he send out his best XI to savour the joy of winning the trophy on the pitch or will he prefer to give a chance to the squad members who have toiled hard in training awaiting their opportunities.
If rumours are to be believed, it may well be the last match of Kaka, Lass and Altintop in a white shirt and they may be given a chance of a final hurrah as substitutes atleast. Adan is sure to leave the capital for more playing time and his reason is justified considering his potential.
But, the most awaited news is of Higuain. the Argentine is loved by everyone at the club and is a fan favourite. Mathematically, Higuain has started 27 games this season against Benzema’s 39. However, more than the number of games, it is which games that Benzema has started matters more. While, Mourinho has shuffled them in order to ensure an equal amount of playing time but a striker would like to play as much as possible.
It is clear that Benzema is the first choice striker when it comes to important games. It is this perceived injustice that has primarily made Pipa look elsewhere.
Real Madrid and the coach have proclaimed that Higuain is part of their plans next year but rumours have failed to die down. Only the undying affection of the fans have made Pipa stay for so long. Whether he will continue or not remains to be seen.
Coming back to the game, in all probability, it will be a combination of untouchables and the “departing” players with Kaka possibly playing the last game in the white shirt. The mental and physical resources will be demanded once again to create more history.
Varane has already proved that he can hold his own against the very best and it would be fitting to let the Bernabeu see this youngster once more and marvel at his composure.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Arbeloa, Albiol, Varane, Coentrão; Alonso, Granero; Callejon, Kaka, Ronaldo; Higuain
Real Mallorca’s versatile winger Emilio Nsue has been ruled out of Sunday’s clash with champions Real Madrid. The Spaniard, who has been playing as a right back in recent weeks, picked up a thigh injury in the 1-0 win over Levante.
In the match against Rayo Vallecano, after half an hour, Dudu Aouate gave one of his best performances of the season. The highlight of the match was the triple save he made to keep the scoreline at 1-0. First he saved a free-kick from Trashorras and then made two further saves in the area from Tamudo.
Performances like that will be needed against Real Madrid and not just from their goalkeeper if Mallorca want to have a European sojourn.
Mallorca have conceded just two goals in their last seven games in which they have won 5, lost 1 and drawn 1. Although Ensue’s injury will be a bit of a hammer blow as they may struggle to contain Ronaldo and this may prove to be the decisive.
Overall, Mallorca are more comfortable playing with a solitary striker as their midfield is not of the quality to impose play as it was demonstrated ably in the last few games, where taking off of one of the strikers made their play much more assured.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-5-1): Dudu Aouate(GK); Ivan Ramis, Chico, Pedro Bigas, Martí Crespí; Tomás Pina, Jose Luis Marti, Alfaro, Gonzalo Castro, Pereira; Víctor Casadesús
TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out For
Cristiano Ronaldo(Real Madrid)
Ronaldo has lost the Pichichi but still would want to finish the season on a high. His desire was evident in the previous match where he was one of the few players to show up in the match. The eventual result will depend a lot on his desire to win and the end output he manages to produce.
Real Madrid 1 – 1 Mallorca
Real Madrid are still in the hangover mode and although the 100 points are important, Mallorca will be more motivated. Along with some of the fringe players in Madrid getting their chance, it is possible that Mallorca might scrape a draw due to sheer desire.
TheHardTackle’s Blast From The Past