Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
June 1, 2013; 17:00 GMT
On a balmy Saturday evening, the announcer at the Santiago Bernabéu will be announcing Jose Mourinho’s name one last time when the Portuguese leads the team out for his final game in charge at Real Madrid. And so a disappointing season will come to an end with an uninspiring fixture with nothing worth fighting for, neither for Osasuna nor Real Madrid.
Contrary to the rather bleak proceedings at the Valdebebas, the news and events leading up to La Liga’s final fixture day have been most engaging. In one of the most prolonged transfer sagas in recent memory, Santos’ Brazilian sensation Neymar overlooked Real Madrid to join archrivals Barcelona causing a considerable flutter in the Los Blancos camp. Not looking to be outdone, Real Madrid have started making significant overtures towards Tottenham’s star man Gareth Bale. Meanwhile, former legend and Galactico Zinedine Zidane has been appointed to the post of the Sporting Director at the club and it seems his first priority would be to make the Welshman Real Madrid’s next Galactico. Also either of Carlo Ancelotti or Jupp Heynckes seems to be headed towards the Bernabéu and Jose Mourinho is joining Chelsea. Yes, that too.
Team News and Tactics
With the final fixture of his Real Madrid tenure an inconsequential affair and a growing injury list comprising Ronaldo and Ramos among others, Jose Mourinho will be sending out a young squad to face Osasuna in the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation. Diego Lopez could be rested, having made it between the posts more times than he could have possibly expected back in January, and with Casillas not looking likely to make it to Mourinho’s team, third choice Adan could make a rare start. Ricardo Carvalho could make his last appearance in a Real Madrid shirt alongside Raul Albiol in the centre of defence with Nacho and Arbeloa on the flanks.
Modric and Essien, who too will be making a final flourish, will form the midfield pivot with Ozil, Callejon and Alvaro Morata making up the attacking trio, with the German playing through the middle. With rumors of Higuain leaving Real Madrid this summer, the Argentine could be another one of those making their last appearance for Los Blancos.
Probable Starting XI [4-2-3-1] : Adan(GK); Arbeloa, Carvalho, Albiol, Nacho; Essien, Modric; Callejon, Ozil, Morata; Higuain
The Pamplona based club is in a mini-injury crisis of its own with several first team starters out of the picture with injuries and suspensions, forward Nino the latest entrant on the list. Manager Jose Luis Mendilibar too will be sending out an inexperienced squad, with the back-line rather makeshift, in a 4-2-3-1 formation. While Bertran and Oier, who have featured consistently this season, will be on the flanks, Ruben Rocha and Nano, who have not been first choice, will be at the heart of defence. Andres Fernandez will be the man between the posts.
Captain Patxi Puñal will form the midfield pivot alongside Francisco Silva, with Alvaro Cejudo, De la Cuevas and Emiliano Armenteros, who has been Osasuna’s best player this season, forming the attacking trio. Kike Sola, Osasuna’s highest scorer this season, will lead the line. Osasuna’s greatest threat could be expected to come from the argentine midfielder Armenteros, who would look to target the suspect looking pairing of Carvalho and Albiol.
Probable Starting XI [4-2-3-1]: Andres(GK); Bertran, Nano, Ruben Rocha, Oier; Silva, Puñal; Cuevas, Armenteros, Cujedo; Sola
- Osasuna captain Patxi Puñal scored his first goal since April 2008 in a crucial fixture against Sevilla last week, guaranteeing another season in La Liga.
- Real Madrid have won their last 10 matches at home in La Liga.
- Real Madrid have won their last 6 matches at home against Osasuna in all competitions.
- Real Madrid have scored at least 2 goals in their last 17 home matches in La Liga.
Player To Watch Out
Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid)
With a move to Juventus looking likely, this could well be Gonzalo Higuain’s last game in a Real Madrid shirt with the least bit of anticipation behind it. El Pipita has been a faithful servant to the club and if he is indeed going out, he will surely want to bang in a goal or two.
Real Madrid 3-1 Osasuna
With young makeshift teams and inconsequential nature of the game, an entertaining game is unlikely but could yet provide a bit of fireworks off the field with this being Mourinho’s, and several others’, potentially last game at Real Madrid.