Santiago Bernabue, Madrid
Saturday, 12 April, 20:00 GMT
A David vs Goliath battle awaits us this weekend in the La Liga as Real Madrid host relegation-bound Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid are through to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the fourth time in a row! However, instead of celebrating ‘Los Blancos’ should contemplate that horrible 2-0 defeat at the Signal Iduna Park which almost saw them out of the Champions League. They were weak at the back and were not very convincing with their attacks and almost saw themselves losing a mighty 3-0 first leg lead. With the Copa Del Rey final coming up in less than a week, Real Madrid need to buck up and get back to winning ways. A slip-up in the Liga will mean that ‘Los Blancos’ bid adieu to the league title which was theirs for the taking before the infamous 4-3 defeat in the El Clasico. Almeria, on the other hand are fighting a relegation battle and still have hopes of making it out of the bottom 3. Both teams have plenty to fight for and will go into this game aiming for a victory.
Poised at third in the Liga table, Real Madrid are no longer the favourites to win the title. However, all is not lost and ‘Los Blancos’ can still claim their 33rd La Liga this season if they manage to not slip-up. The defeat at Signal Iduna Park was not shocking as Dortmund are known to be dangerous at their home. However, the way Real Madrid played in the first half and came so close to elimination was shuddering. Real Madrid should pick themselves up and get back to winning ways as they host lowly Almeria at their very own fortress, Santiago Bernabeu. A big win will do them all the good in order to boost morale and positivity will be restored in the dressing room before the awaited El Clasico face-off next week in the Copa final. Having won their last two league games with a heavy margin, Real Madrid come into this game as the favourites.
Almeria come into this game as the underdogs. Already battling relegation, this is not the right time for 19th placed Almeria to travel to the Bernabeu. Only 1 point away from the 17th place, Almeria still have a realistic chance of staying in the first division. Although a tough game, Almeria must not lose hope and try their best to avoid ‘Los Blancos’ any success at home. With absolutely no expectations from the relegation-bound side, they can go out there and try their best to disappoint Real Madrid. Almeria have lost 3, drawn 1 and won a single game in their last 5 league encounters. Going by their current form, they certainly aren’t expected to gain anything from this fixture.
Quite a few Real Madrid players are currently plagued with the injury bug and the suspension list isn’t helping their cause either. The most heartbreaking news for Madridistas has been the confirmation of Ronaldo suffering from a thigh muscle injury. Going by the reports, it is suggested that the Balon d’Or winner could be missing from action for as long as 15 days. This means that the Portuguese will certainly miss out against Almeria. Also injured are Khedira, Jesé and Arbeloa. Though Marcelo has returned to training, the Brazilian will not be starting this weekend. Carvajal and Alonso will both be serving suspensions and will miss out.
Ancelotti will be without some of his key players in this fixture and may look to rest some considering the upcoming Copa final. Diego Lopez will take his place back in the sticks as he has done all of this season in the La Liga. Nacho will play as the right back along with Ramos and Pepe in the centre of defence and Coentrao as the left full-back. Modric, Illarramendi and Di Maria will occupy the mid-field. The front three will consist of Bale, Benzema and Isco.
Probable Line-Up (4-3-3): Lopez; Nacho, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao; Modric, Illarramendi, Di Maria; Bale, Benzema, Isco;
Almeria will be without wing-back Sebastian Dubarbier who is out with a knee injury and right back Rafita who is suspended for the clash. Francisco Rodriguez will try to field his best possible 11 to face the lethal ‘Los Blancos’ at the Bernabeu. The manager will go with a 4-2-3-1 and try his best to pose a solid defence against the Real Madrid attack.
Rodriguez will field Esteban in the goal. The back four will consist of Nelson, Truijilo, Torsiglieri and Mane. Supporting the back four will be holding mid-fielders Verza and Azeez. Suso and Vidal will flank the wing while Soriano will play as the no. 10. Rodri will play as the lone forward.
Probable Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Esteban; Nelson, Truijilo, Torsiglieri, Mane; Verza, Azeez; Suso, Soriano, Vidal; Rodri;
Real Madrid 4-0 UD Almeria
This should be a cakewalk for Real Madrid in their attempts to pile pressure on the top 2. The last encounter between these two resulted in a menacing 5-0 victory for Real Madrid at the visitor’s home. This game could provide Ancelotti with a chance to use some of the youth players.