Cornellá-El Prat, Barcelona
May 11, 2013; 18:00 GMT
Jose Mourinho doesn’t look like stopping. He wants to take down anybody who he can while he leaves Real Madrid at the end of this season. First it was Iker Casillas, then Pepe and now its Cristiano Ronaldo. Even after Florentino Perez called for peace, Mourinho went ahead and, in a veiled statement, called him hypocritical. It’s all happening at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The club has become a laughingstock with the manager firing his parting shots at everyone, and the players are left disillusioned with the happenings around them. Never before has a coach acted so desperately to get fired. Instead Mourinho has warned the club he would stay on after this season, effectively issuing an ultimatum to seal his transfer to another club, likely to be Chelsea. The Special One is leaving no stone unturned to create a mess before he leaves the Spanish capital.
Real Madrid, not intent on escalating matters further, cancelled their pre-match conference sending neither their coach nor their coaching staff, in order to avoid further embarassment. Even the players have been restrained from expressing their opinions publicly, and instead are focusing on their impending Copa Del Rey semi-final against Atletico Madrid.
Jose Mourinho’s agenda appears strange as he still has a sizable fan following among the fans at Real Madrid, and instead of leaving the club respectfully, he has managed to piss off all sections of people associated with the club. Yes, the media has been against him this season but in the last three years, he has enjoyed considerable support from the media. Even against Malaga, he was booed for his actions, while at the beginning of the season, his name was sung boisterously on par with any Galactico. Everything happening at Real Madrid currently is surreal and inexplicable.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Espanyol also have enough injury problems to worry about. Felipe Mattioni is still out, but Cristian Alvarez and Simao have been included in the squad list for Real Madrid, after having missed out on the last few matches due to a calf injury and a torn hamstring, respectively. Christian Alfonso has been left out as a technical decision, while third-choice goalkeeper German Parreño returns to Espanyol B with captain Alvarez’s return.
Apart from these, Javier Aguirre has called up all his most important players as Espanyol prepare for face Real Madrid. Their front three of Verdu, Stuani and Sergio Garcia have been Espanyol’s best players in the league so far with eight, six and seven goals respectively.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Casilla; Lopez, Colotto, Moreno, Capdevilla; Sanchez, Forlin; Stuani, Verdu, Wakaso; Garcia
Real Madrid’s defensive woes continue to haunt them. After Pepe’s comments supporting Iker Casillas, the Portuguese was dropped from the squad altogether and could probably sit out of the squad all together until the end of the season. Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Ozil and Marcelo are recovering from injuries and will miss the encounter against Espanyol. All four of them are expected to be fit before the Copa del Rey final against Atletico Madrid.
Nacho, who has been impressive in recent matches will play as right-back with Varane, Albiol and Coentrao in defense alongside him. Alonso and Modric could be rested for the Copa final on friday, allowing Mourinho to play Essien and Khedira in midfield. Khedira’s status is still unclear but could make the XI if he is fit enough.
Kaka, Ronaldo, Di Maria and Higuain will occupy their positions up front in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Lopez; Nacho, Varane, Albiol, Coentrao; Khedira, Essien; Di Maria, Kaka, Ronaldo; Higuain
Player To Watch Out For
The Argentinian has been a subject of transfer rumors linking him to Juventus and Chelsea. His performance against Dortmund in the Champions League clash did not go down well with the supporters, and he was booed in Real Madrid’s previous match against Malaga when brought on. With all that in mind, Higuain will undoubtedly look to set the record straight against Espanyol.
Espanyol 2 – 2 Real Madrid
A victory for Real Madrid would have been a safe prediction. But considering the mess the club finds itself in, the final against Atletico Madrid next week, and the fact that this is an inconsequential game for both sides, Espanyol can push Real Madrid and hope for a draw.