Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
5th April, 2015; 11:00 CET
Real Madrid have won only one of their last five games and Carlo Ancelotti will be looking to put their recent disappointments to the back of their minds when they host Granada at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
The international break could not have come on a better time for Real Madrid as they were struggling badly for form in La Liga in past one month. The international break has given Carlo Ancelotti a much needed free time to develop some new ideas to rejuvenate his players and make them hungry for success again.
For 19th placed Cordoba, every upcoming game is an opportunity to avoid the relegation and Abel Resinoa s men will be hoping to secure at least a point against out of form Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid secured record 22 straight victories in last few months of 2014 but they have badly struggled for form in the new year as they have lost 6 games in 2015.
Thanks to their recent struggles, Real Madrid find themselves four points behind leaders FC Barcelona but a game against struggling Granada offers them a chance to reduce the margin, albeit for a short while as the Catalans will be playing late in the night.
Biggest reason of worry for Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti at the moment is the form of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo was in superb touch in 2014, but he has failed to replicate the same form in the new year. And like Ronaldo, the recent performances of Gareth Bale are also under scrutiny as the Welshman has looked out of ideas for Los Blancos.
But Bale performed extremely well for Wales in their two friendlies and Blancosa fans would be hoping for a similar kind of performance from him against Granada tonight.
However, Gareth Bale’s remains uncertain, after he suffered a muscle strain during Wales’ victory over Israel.
Real Madrid have received a big injury boost ahead of Granada game as James Rodriguez is back from his long injury lay-off. James Rodriguez will likely take Isco’s spot in Real Madrid’s midfield, with the youngster suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Barcelona.
Elsewhere, Carlo Ancelotti will be forced to change his defensive formation as Pepe is not available after picking a thigh injury in El Clasico. French international Raphael Varane is likely to take the place of Pepe.
Meanwhile, in spite of losing their La Liga lead to FC Barcelona, Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti believes that they can still win the league.
“We are convinced that it’s by no means decided yet,a said Carlo Ancelotti in his press conference.
a But we have no margin for error; we have to win all games possible. The team is revved-up, fresh and raring to go. If we compare them to last year, we are going into this moment in better shape. Only Pepe has a slight problem, which will be sorted very soon. We have a lot of games in April; it’s normal to think that we need the whole squad. I’ll try to rotate the team; all the players will be used.
a We are not making calculations based on the points that Barcelona might drop. Our objective is to win the next ten games – we’ve done it before, it’s not a utopia. I think we can do so again; I believe in this team, in this squad. I see a fully charged group ready to give their all in all the games.”
Predicted Starting XI (4-3-3): Casillas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, Rodriguez; Jese, Benzema, Ronaldo.
Granada are almost certain to get relegate this season as one win in their last seven league games has seen them slip to 19th, and are currently just two points from safety.
Granada have failed in all departments of game but bulk of their problemsa have come in front of goal. In 28 games in La Liga this season, Granada have found the back of the net only 18 times, leaving them as the lowest scorers in the division.
Granada defender Jeison Murillo has asked his team mates to start winning again if they want to remain in La Liga for another season.
“We are aware that we have 10 finals left and that we have to go flat out now,” Murillo said.
“We have to be fully concentrated to confront what is coming towards us.”
Jeison Murrillo picked up a knock while on an international duty but he is expected to recover on time to play against Real Madrid tonight.
Predicted Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Oier; Niom, Babin, Murillo, Insua; Rico, Iturra; Lass, Piti, Ibanez; Cordoba.
Real Madrid 3-1 Granada
The recent form of Real Madrid is not good enough but the game against Granada offers them a chance to recover and they are expected to register an easy victory over the Andalusians in their own backyard tonight.
Player To Watch Out For
The Portuguese captain has captured more headlines for his behavior rather than performances of late. But Ronaldo will be keen to start scoring again and an easy looking game against Granada offers him a great opportunity to get his confidence back.
Blast From The Past