Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Saturda, April 26, 2013; 19:00 Hrs GMT
If Real Madrid are to be crowned champions of Spain then this might just be the decisive match day, with los Blancos hosting Osasuna and table toppers Atletico facing a tricky trip to Valencia.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side is brimming with confidence after defeating Barcelona in the final of the Copa del Rey. Clasico victory was swiftly followed by an excellent 1-0 win over European champions Bayern Munich in UEFA Champions League semi final at their home ground.
The Portugal skipper Cristiano Ronaldo, 29, made his comeback against Bayern after a four-match absence with the problem.
“Cristiano was fine after the match with Bayern, he’s recovered well and needs to play in order to find his form. He’ll play against Osasuna,” added Ancelotti, who also laughed off reports linking him to the vacant Manchester United job.
“I’ll make some changes, but not too many because it’s a very important match for La Liga. We have to play this match with great focus and energy, because it won’t be easy.”
Team News & Tactical Brief
Third-placed Real are six points behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, who have played a game more going into the weekend and are four points clear of second-placed Barcelona.
With Osasuna struggling at the wrong end of the table, and the Blancos having won three straight league games in which they have scored 13 goals without reply, the signs point towards a comfortable home victory.
However, Madrid will need no reminding of the danger posed by Javi Gracia’s men following a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture in December, a game that saw the capital club come from two goals down and both teams finish with 10 men.
For Madrid, Daniel Carvajal and Xabi Alonso return from suspension. Cristiano Ronaldo played against Bayern Munich in midweek despite not being 100 per cent fit but Ancelotti says Cristiano Ronaldo is healthy and will start against Osasuna on Saturday. Striker Karim Benzema and defender Pepe both have sore knees. Gareth Bale could miss Real Madrid’s crucial La Liga match against Osasuna on Saturday as he continues to recover from illness. The Welshman, 24, was a substitute in Wednesday’s Champions League win over Bayern Munich after a bout of flu.
“Bale trained on Friday and he is feeling a little weak,” said Real boss Carlo Ancelotti. “I’ll decide on Saturday whether to play him.”
Probable Starting Lineup [4-3-3]: Lopez (GK); Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Mdoric, Alonso, Di Maria; Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo.
Osasuna’s recent form can be best described as mixed. Gracia’s charges are unbeaten in four, but have won just once in nine league matches. Osasuna players will have to be at their best to avoid heavy defeat against in-form Madrid side.
This is going to be a very crucial game for Osasuna as far as their battle against relegation is concerned. With just four matches remaining, Osasuna are just three points above the drop zone and will be keen to pull off a shock in order to alleviate the threat of relegation.
Osasuna isn’t an offensively or defensively talented team and have a hard time against clearly superior opponents. When they do have the ball they like to either cross the ball in for Riera to try and get his head on it or shoot from a relative distance and especially from the left side. They like to play the ball wide but that’s also where they’re at their weakest when it comes to defending as only three clubs in the league have given up more goals.
The problem Osasuna face is that they’re at the bottom of the league in terms of spending time in the opposition half so a healthy dose of Modric, Alonso and Isco controlling the show in the final third might be in order.
For today’s game, Nino had to sit out training on Wednesday due to a strain in his right hamstring. Sisi and Lolo are sidelined with injury.
Probable Starting Lineup [4-2-3-1]: Andres; Bertran, Flano, Arribas, Damia; Loe, Punal; Cejudo, Torres, Armenteros; Riera
Player To Watch Out For
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Frenchman Karim Benzema has rediscovered his form under Carlo Ancelotti this season. And after scoring winning goal against Bayern Munich on Wednesday, confidence of Benzema will be sky high.
Real Madrid 3-0 Osasuna
After beating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in back-to-back matches, Real Madrid side will be confident of overcoming against this Osasuna side who is fighting a relegation battle. Madrid is expected to score at least goals in this easy looking encounter.
- Madrid is on a 10-match winning run at home in La Liga.
- Real have kept a clean sheet in just one of their last eight matches in all competitions.
- Osasuna has only won two of its last eight matches in La Liga.
- Osasuna’s last away win over Madrid came in April 2004.
- The Pamplona club has lost four of their last five meetings with Real Madrid.
Blast From the Past