José Zorrilla, Valladolid
December 8, 2012; 19:00 GMT
After a dull football derby against Atletico and an inconsequential match against Ajax in the Champions’ League, weekend league football for Real Madrid continues against high-flying Valladolid.
After the defeat to Real Betis, there have been incessant rumours of Jose Mourinho leaving the capital club at the end of this term. While such a thing has not been confirmed by anybody, it hasn’t been denied either, thereby adding more fuel to the speculations. But Real Madrid cannot afford any more deviations. They have had all their share of controversies and any more can seriously damage the reputation of the club and its manager. A victory is the only option for everyone associated with the Liga champions.
Valladolid, on the other hand, have been the surprise package of this year’s Liga. Every year, there is some team winning hearts in the Spanish League. Last year it was Levante, this year its Valladolid. Having been promoted this year after spending two years in the Segunda division, they have impressed beyond expectations. Their football is easy on the eye and they look like a team wanting to play with the ball as much as possible.
Currently, they are on a winning streak after having beaten Sevilla 2-1 last week, and sit seventh in the league table with 21 points from 14 games, one behind Malaga in fifth and Getafe in sixth who are tied on 22 points. They have a realistic chance for the European spot and this coupled with their winning habit, will be hard to overcome at their home ground.
Team News and Tactics
José Mourinho rested most of his first team players for the Champions’ League game against Ajax and this means that they will be fresh enough to face Valladolid’s might. Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos and Nacho will be part of the back four ahead of Iker Casillas in goal. Coentrao was replaced by Pepe after the defender complained of a problem in his leg and is not expected to recover fully for this clash.
Khedira and Alonso are automatic starters in midfield. Luka Modric had a fantastic game against Ajax, probably his best in a Madrid shirt but his ability to play beside Khedira is much greater than beside Alonso. The Spaniard is untouchable in the starting XI and hence Modric may start on the bench.
Ronaldo and Benzema are another two automatic starters. Gonzalo Higuain is still injured which means that Mourinho will have less star presence on the bench. Angel Di Maria has not been at his best and his decision-making with the ball has been suspect this season but with Callejón having played the full match and scoring a brace mid-week which included a brilliant goal created by Modric, the Argentinian may well play ahead of the Spaniard.
Real Madrid will need to be at their very best as Valladolid are a team playing with high confidence. Xabi Alonso, as usual, will hold the key to dictate the game and ensure that Real Madrid are in total control at all times. The defense of Pepe and Ramos need to close down Oscar and Manucho and limit their shots on goal to minimize their influence.
Probable Starting XI [4-2-3-1]: Casillas(GK); Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Nacho; Alonso, Khedira; Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo; Benzema
Miroslav Djukic has been an excellent coach for the home side. After getting relegated and struggling to gain promotion, the club turned to Djukic for answers and surely the Serbian has breathed new life into the club. With a pleasing style of football, his team has manage to capture Spain’s attention with their convincing victories so far.
Valladolid play a very aggressive game. Against Sevilla, they had only 36% of the possession but their game is very composed and solid. They raced to a comfortable 2-0 lead before an own goal brought the score to 2-1. With excellent players like Oscar and the German Patrick Ebert in their ranks, they have amassed a total of 17 shots with seven on target which showcases their striking prowess even with less possession. Oscar, their primary playmaker, is their top goal scorer so far with seven goals.
Valladolid are also a team which give a hard time to any opposition and look to win the ball by pressuring opponents as much as possible. Their 35 yellow cards so far in the campaign bear testimony to their feisty nature and their will to win the ball.
Against Real Madrid,Valladolid will know that they will have less possession, so they will to win the ball and move forward as quickly as possible with Ebert charging down the wings against Nacho. The home team know that, Real Madrid are too good on the break and will try to sit deep to disallow any space for the capital club to run towards their keeper unfazed.
Probable Starting XI [4-2-3-1]: Dani Hernandez(GK), Rukavina, Sereno, Valiente, Balenziaga; Rubio, Perez; Ebert, Oscar, Omar; Manucho
Players To Watch Out
Nacho (Real Madrid)
The young Castilla defender has been in the news for reasons out of his comfort zone. His exclusion from the starting XI in the absence of both Coentrao and Marcelo laid the foundation for a very public spat between Jose Mourinho and the Castilla coach, Alberto Toril. But after putting on a superb display against Ajax, the Spaniard is expected to retain his position at left back after the injury to Fabio Coentrao. The focus will definitely be on him as he will be against one of Valladolid’s best players, Patrick Ebert.
Patrick Ebert (Valladolid)
The German winger was a member of the German U-21 European Championship winning team which comprised of Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira. After that, his career took a nose dive but at Valladolid, he has rejuvenated himself with excellent ball play and a serious offensive threat.
Valladolid 1- 3 Real Madrid
Valladolid are a tough team but Real Madrid are no ordinary team. They have had their blips in the past but on their day they are unmatched in talent and style. A victory for Real Madrid is a very possible outcome.
Blast from the Past
A rare moment from the past when Real Madrid were the Galacticos with Zidane, Ronaldo and Figo in their team. In this particular move, Zidane unleashes his classic Roulette turn to beat the last defender but with only the goal keeper to beat, flashes his shot wide off the target. A rare Zizou miss!