Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
May 4, 2013; 18:00 GMT
After the heartbreak against Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid welcome Valladolid in an otherwise inconsequential encounter in the La Liga. With the Champions League loss, the focus has shifted to Jose Mourinho’s future rather than the nature of loss itself.
The furore started right after the match. Santiago Bernabeu was still reeling from a hard loss, the players distraught when Mourinho decided to drop the bomb shell and make himself the centre of attention and in the process setting off a chain of events. The Portuguese superstar manager made not so subtle references regarding his future when he proclaimed that he could leave Real Madrid and end up in England at the one club where he is loved unconditionally. No prizes for guessing the club.
It was probably insensitive to make the announcement at such a fragile juncture. Real Madrid have been chasing La Decima for more than ten years now and Mourinho was brought to help the capital club secure that dream. After decimating Barcelona last season, every fan of the great club was hoping for the European Cup to come home this year. So when Real Madrid lost, in spite of a monumental effort by the players and the crowd being behind them for the entire duration of the second leg, it would have made sense to reflect on the loss rather than discuss the future on such a night.
While Mourinho may have his reasons for doing so, his announcement has had an effect in other places. Carlo Ancelotti is being asked in every press conference about Real Madrid; every manager in the Premier League is asked to comment on the Special One’s return to England while quite a few players at Real Madrid are suddenly on the transfer market. For a Madridista, these few days have been hard to take.
Mourinho’s statements have also been hard to take. There have been legions of fans who have supported Mourinho during the hard times and praised him when he deserved but his announcements have let them all down. He was, in their words, a coach who could show the light to a club in turmoil. But as the season ends and his departure becomes more likely, Mourinho could leave a club at the cross roads with his statements on Iker Casillas becoming more vocal. This is bound to cause rifts at the club and before it escalates, the management should put an end to this entire circus and ensure that Mourinho leaves calmly and try to put all transfer rumors to bed until the Copa Del Rey final.
Valladolid have had a quite season so far. They have not shocked anyone and have quietly made their way to 40 points, which is considered a safe be to avoid relegation. For a club which achieved promotion last year, Miroslav Đukić, their coach, would consider this season a successful one.
The last time both these sides met, Valladolid took the lead twice but Real Madrid fought back and won the game 2-3.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Jose Mourinho’s first choice backline is unavailable. Sergio Ramos is out injured while Arbeloa and Marcelo are still to recover from their injuries. Raul Albiol is suspended for the clash. The coach may decide to bench his available defenders after the midweek clash against Dortmund and play his second choice players in defense. Essien, Carvalho, Pepe and Nacho are expected to start ahead of Diego Lopez.
Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso are expected to start in midfield. Ronaldo is suspected of having a hamstring problem and could start from the bench. Kaka, Callejon and Alvaro Morata will lead the attack behind Karim Benzema. Gonzalo Higuain will start from the bench.
Mourinho’s aim is to keep his players fit until the Copa Del Rey clash and to ensure that they end the season remaining undefeated at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Lopez; Essien, Pepe, Carvalho, Nacho; Khedira, Alonso; Callejon, Kaka, Morata; Benzema
Valladolid have their entire first team squad at their disposal with no injury concerns. Rukavina, Rueda, Valiente and Balenziaga would start in defense ahead of their goal keeper, Hernandez. Rubio and Perez will shield the defense playing in the central defensive midfield. Ebert, Oscar, Omar and Guerra will lead the offensive line.
Oscar has been their best player so far with 11 goals and 7 assists followed closely by Patrick Ebert who has had 6 goals and as many assists.
Last time both sides met, Valladolid scored both their goals through corners with Manucho being immense in offense.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Hernandez; Rukavina, Rueda, Valiente, Balenziaga; Rubio, Perez; Ebert, Oscar, Omar; Guerra
Player To Watch Out For
Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid)
The Real Madrid youngster has been impressive whenever called upon and with most of the first team stars either injured or rested, he will have ample chance to make an impact and ensure his place in the squad next season.
Real Madrid 3 – 0 Valladolid
Real Madrid are yet to lose at home this season and it should remain the same after Valladolid. The visiting team are not very dangerous opponents and after the loss against Dortmund, Real Madrid will look to win handsomely to give the Bernabeu crowd something to cheer about.