Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
November 23 2013; 14:00 ET
Almeria host Real Madrid in the 14th round of La Liga in what is expected to be an interesting clash. Third place Madrid will be looking to go back home with three points while Almeria, languishing in the bottom half of the table will be looking to defend resolutely in its attempt to draw the fixture.
Currently on a goal-scoring rampage, Real Madrid will be led by Cristiano Ronaldo who will be hot in pursuit after his brilliant performance in the World Cup play-offs against Sweden. Having scored 35 goals so far in this season, Almeria will be facing a tough task at home in their attempt to keep the visitors at bay. However, Real Madrid’s lack of defensive discipline has been a major cause of concern for Carlo Ancelotti. Not lacking in gun-power, Real Madrid often squander away a well-earned lead by conceding erratic goals against smaller teams. So it will be interesting to see how Real Madrid respond to Almeria and whether they will be able to get their act together and put forward a convincing display on Saturday.
Recently promoted Almeria on the other hand have won their last three fixtures and are coming from a good run of form. Surprisingly, these are the only three matches they have won this season, having either lost or drawn their first ten matches.
Almeria – Team News, Expected Line-Up and Formation
Having won their last three games, Almeria will be looking to carry on their good form but it is highly likely that their leaky defence will be able to hold off Real Madrid for long. The team will have to defend for most parts of the game and if they are able to crowd the midfield then they might just be able to frustrate Madrid since the Spanish giants are new to possession football.
They are most likely to start with a 4-2-3-1 formation with their five midfielders falling deep to defend. The wingers will probably look to break quick counters, considering that Real Madrid are weak on their wings defensively.
Real Madrid – Team News, Expected Line-Up and Formation
Trailing behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the La Liga, Real Madrid cannot afford to take their foot off the gas during their comparatively smaller fixtures. Always shaky while visiting, Real Madrid will be looking to field a strong side on Saturday.
With Khedira out injured for the rest of the season, it is going to be interesting to see how Real Madrid shape up on Saturday and the weeks to come. An integral part of the 4-3-3 formation Ancelotti favoured this season, he might have to make some changes now that his German midfielder is out for the season. He has the option of switching to his Christmas tree formation ( 4-2-3-1) with Isco playing behind the striker and Xabi Alonso and Modric pulling the strings from the middle. Or the Italian might stick to his earlier formation giving Casemiro an opportunity to prove his mettle.
However, it seems unlikely that Casemiro will be given a preference over Isco and one might see the young Spaniard once again in the starting-eleven. In the defence, Ancelotti will be looking to give Frenchman Varane a rest and might start with Ramos and Pepe at the helm of things. Coentrao looks to start ahead of Marcelo on the left though both the left-backs have been plagued by injuries recently. Playing against Almeria, a team with an ordinary attack-force, Ancelotti might go ahead with Carvajal instead of Arbeloa as the young Spaniard has proven his attacking prowess this season and will be a major threat while going forward.
Expected Line-Up-Diego Lopez-Ramos-Pepe-Carvajal-Coentrao-Alonso-Modric-Isco-Ronaldo-Bale-Benzema
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 3 hattricks in his last 6 matches.
- Almeria have scored 15 goals in La Liga so far while Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 16 himself.
Player to Watch Out For:
Who to watch out? The answer is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star is in the best shape of his career and has demolished oppositions with his clinical finishing, lighting speed and scorching free-kicks. Having scored yet another hat trick against Sweden, Ronaldo single-handedly ensured his team’s place in the upcoming World Cup. Having scored 31 goals in 21 matches, the Real Madrid star is sure to steal the show yet again against Almeria on Saturday.
Almeria 1- Real Madrid 4
With Real Madrid’s attacking prowess, one should be expecting a lot of fireworks this Saturday. But given their defensive liability, the visitors might just concede a goal on the counter.
Blast from the Past
UPDATE-Coentrao has been ruled out due to an injury so it is most likely that Arbeloa will be switched to the left to cover up that position while Carvajal will start on the right.