Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
April 29, 2012 ; 3:30 PM IST
Real Madrid’s hopes of a historic La Decima came crashing to the ground when Bastian Schweinsteiger crashed the ball into the net. But the biggest positve of the game was the brilliant press conference by Mourinho – probably his best ever at Madrid – and the reaction of the people inside the Bernabeu. More than disappointment it was the empathy with the players that was endearing to watch.
Jose Mourinho’s ambition of becoming the first coach to win 3 CL’s with three different clubs has not yet been fulfilled but the league title is still at stake. His team needs only two more victories to win the league and the coach will want to finish the job as soon as possible to heave a sign of relief.
Sevilla, on the other hand, have had a mixed campaign so far. They are three points away from a potential European spot and they will try to get there. Michel has suffered from injury problems to his star players but their defensive record has been top class this season.
Team News And Tactical Brief
After the physically and emotionally draining Champions’ League semifinal and El Clasico, Mourinho will need to decide if he will rest some players owing to the fatigue factor. He had publicly stated that his players were tired after their clash against Bayern but he may not take any chances before the Liga title is mathematically theirs.
Sevilla are a side built up to defend deep and Real Madrid will not have any option but to constantly attack. Mesut Ozil may be given a breather after the string of games played with Kaka replacing the German as the primary playmaker in the starting XI. Angel Di Maria’s form has also been wobbly off late and Callejon may start on the right.
Cristiano Ronaldo will start on the left and will be keen to add goals to his tally to remain ahead of Lionel Messi in the Pichichi race. Karim Benzema put in a tireless shift in the previous three encounters and may be rewarded with some much needed rest with Gonzalo Higuain starting as the striker.
The defense looked tired and weary against Bayern Munich and they do deserve some rest after fantastic efforts throughout the campaign. Sergio Ramos has been the butt of jokes for his dreadful penalty and may be replaced with Raul Albiol in the line-up. Raphael Varane, who has been very impressive whenever given the chance may be asked to start alongside Albiol. Alvaro Arbeloa and Coentrao will complete the defense.
Sami Khedira has been one of the most consistent performers for Mourinho throughout the season. It is very difficult to say that Khedira has done anything wrong this whole campaign. He has been rested rarely and this game against Sevilla may be his time to be on the bench and let Granero start in the midfield alongside Xabi Alonso.
Sevilla’s campaign has been pretty inconsistent this season. A win against Malaga and Valencia at home and a draw to Barcelona at Camp Nou have been the highlights of their campaign. But, at this stage of the campaign, with multiple injuries and suspensions, Michel will be in a selection dilemma.
Before the bad news, Sevilla will be able to avail the services of goalkeeper Andres Palop, who has overcome his calf problem, whilst Emir Spahic has also returned to fitness.
But the bad news is that Sevilla will have to do without their two most influential players, Frederic Kanoute and Diego Perotti who are injured. Julian Escudé has also been reportedly injured and will miss the clash. The suspensions of Gary Medel and Manu del Moral also don’t help matters.
Sevilla will defend deep and hard and will pose plenty of problems to Real Madrid defensively. With Jesus Navas galloping down the wings and Real Madrid Castilla product Alvaro Negredo as a striker, Sevilla have a decent strike force with the ability to counter attack. Jose Antonio Reyes and Rakitic will hold the key in the midfield.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Palop; Cala, Spahic, Fazio, Navarro;Trochowski, Rakitic;Navas, Reyes, Luna; Negredo
TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch Out
Cristiano Ronaldo(Real Madrid)
The Portuguese superstar has been nothing short of sensational for Real Madrid this year. But his missed penalty against Manuel Neuer has been a disappointment for Ronaldo himself. He will look ahead to erase the painful memory and make amends on the pitch against Sevilla.
Jesus Navas (Sevilla)
The Sevilla winger will need to put in impressive performances to be considered for a place in the Euros by Vicente del Bosque. Navas offers width and pace down the wings and a directness which del Bosque can utilize when things aren’t exactly going to plan.
Real Madrid 3 – 0 Sevilla
Real Madrid are wounded after their heart breaking elimination in the Champions’ League. With no other trophy to play for, the Copa Del Rey champions will put everything into the upcoming matches to win the league as soon as possible. Sevilla do not have a great away record and Real Madrid have a fantastic home record. A victory for Mourinho’s men is probable.
TheHardTackle’s Blast From The Past