San Moix, Mallorca
January 14, 2011, 20:00 CET
After ensuing a safe passage into the next round of Copa Del Rey, in which they will face eternal rivals Barcelona, Real Madrid will have to safeguard their five point lead in the Liga table when they face off against Real Mallorca at the Iberostar stadium.
It is too much of a burden for the fans of the Big Two to be going face-to-face in such a short span of time and then there is the possibility of them facing each other in the Champions’ League as well.But,the team needs to focus on the job at hand before thinking about the Catalans.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Controversies and Spanish football go hand in hand. So, it was hardly surprising when Michael Laudrup fell out with the Sporting Director Llorenc Serra Ferrer. The Dane had a great first half last season but had a disastrous second half in which they just about avoided relegation. His replacement, Joaquin Caparros, was the coach of Athletic Bilbao last season and was replaced by Marcelo Biesla.
Under Caparros, Mallorca have had a mixed season so far. Though they would be proud of their draws against Valencia, Atletico and Bilbao, there have been far too many draws and not enough victories. Goals have been difficult to come by but in the Spanish Copa Del Rey, Mallorca have looked very promising.
After losing the first leg against Sporting Gijon at home, they staged a brilliant come back to win 0-2 and progress to the next round. Next round, they lost 2-0 to Real Sociedad. Qualification seemed a distant dream. Then Real Mallorca bounced back in style in a 0-0 draw against Levante in which they dominated the match and then decimated Real Sociedad 6-1 in the return leg to progress to the next round. The performances have been good but the killer instinct was missing. Against Real Socieded,they displayed that they do possess one. It was a good time too as they will be hosting Real Madrid next.
Probable starting line-up (4-4-2) : Catatayud; Zuiverloon, Nunes, Crespí, Bigas; Alfaro, Pina, Martí, Castro; Nsue, Hemed
After the Clasico debacle, Real Madrid have not looked at their fluent best. Their victory against Granada looked labored and their victories against Malaga lacked panache. It may be that the players are not yet ready and fit after the holidays and may need matches to get going. But they don’t have the time.
With their next match against Barcelona, a loss against Mallorca will hurt Real Madrid more than anything else. They need to put a flawless performance and then get ready for Barcelona. Real Madrid’s player of the season so far, Angel Di Maria, is still injured and the right wing needs attention. Playing Benzema and Higuain together has worked well for the team and Mourinho may stick to the same formula.
Sami Khedira’s injury has happened at a bad time. With Lass as the only back-up, Mourinho has to rally his troops efficiently.Also,when enquired about Sahin, the Portuguese tactician has admitted that he is struggling to fit him into the XI. Granero may have been training with the team for a couple of years now but looks like he is no where near ready to start for the team. That makes the inclusion of Alonso and Lass certain.
The defense has been less of a problem. It has looked settled and the combination of Pepe and Ramos have contributed immensely to this. Carvalho still is not fully fit and it looks like Pepe and Ramos will have to continue at the centre of defense. Arbeloa will start of the right and Marcelo on the left.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1) : Casillas(GK); Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos,Marcelo ; Lass , Alonso; Benzema , Ozil, Ronaldo ; Higuain
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Cristiano Ronaldo (Madrid)
The Portugal captain, according to media reports, has been the subject of boos of the Bernabeu faithful. And, he has not looked his best post the Christmas break. Ronaldo needs to fire and make an impact on the games.
Real Mallorca 0 – 3 Real Madrid
Mallorca may be on a good run but Real Madrid are too strong for them to cause a blip. A victory for Los Blancos is on the cards.