Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
December 20, 2010, 1:30 AM IST
Los Blancos will look forward to maintaining their winning run as they welcome the RojiBlancos at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Real Madrid looked in excellent touch as they dispatched Real Zaragoza and would be hoping for a similar result against Sevilla. Sevilla, meanwhile are going through a rough patch and a draw against Borussia Dortmund in the Europa league has been their only saving grace as they progressed to the knock out stages in the Europa League. Sevilla will be hoping that this draw can reverse their fortunes in La Liga.
Team News and Tactical brief
Real Madrid FC
Los Galacticos have responded well after their loss against Barcelona, dispatching Valencia and Real Zaragoza in the process and would like to keep the momentum going into the Christmas break. Jose Mourinho has his winning home record still intact and would be looking forward to add another number to the tally. Mourinho has his fair share of problems going into the match against Sevilla. He will be unable to field his best XI against Los Nervionenses.
Los Merengues’ defence looks depleted with Ramos carrying a minor niggle and Marcelo being suspended. That leaves Mourinho with only Carvalho and Pepe as his first choice defenders against Sevilla. This is a great opportunity for the backup defenders to showcase their skills in front of the manager. Arbeloa has been confirmed to take up the defensive duties for Marcelo while Garay will be left on the bench. Ramos has been named in the squad and is expected to start unless something goes wrong again. In case of such a situation, Albiol will be covering up for Ramos. The midfield maestro, Xabi Alonso will be suspended for this match and this leaves a big creative void in the midfield. It’s common knowledge that Alonso is one-of-a-kind player and his absence would be felt in the midfield. But the midfield will be bolstered by the return of Sami Khedira who had missed the game against Zaragoza with a minor injury. Lass Diarra was proclaimed as the Man of the Match against Zaragoza by The Special One and he should be able to start alongside Khedira. It will be interesting to see how well they perform, as Lass and Khedira have never started together for Madrid. Mahamadou Diarra will provide the back up in the defensive midfield department.
Mourinho – slowly getting Madrid back on track after the Camp Nou disaster.
The attacking midfield of Real Madrid has been spectacular this season with exception to the only game against Barcelona. Ronaldo, Di Maria and Ozil have linked up brilliantly with each other and have adapted to one another more quickly than expected. So, expect no changes here. With Higuain out with an injury, Karim Benzema is the only striker Mourinho is left with. After a sterling display against Auxerre, Benzema missed out a chance to impress his manager against Zaragoza. Mourinho was visibly furious on the touch line as Benzema missed his chances. The manager would be hoping that Benzema comes good in this game. The last few minutes against Zaragoza were special for Morata, the striker from Real Madrid Castilla, who is considered to resemble Fernando Morientes, the Real Madrid talismanic striker. Surely, his touches on the ball were impressive and Mourinho will look to give more playing time to the youngster.
Probable starting line-up: (4-2-3-1) Iker Casillas, Alvaro Arbeloa, Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho, Lass Diarra, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Angel DiMaria, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema.
Los nervionenses started the season well under Gregorio Manzano and were well in contention for the Champions League spot until the match against Barcelona happened. They lost 5-0 and then lost to Mallorca, Getafe, Villareal and Almeria. They are currently placed in the 11th position in the table and need to do something special to salvage their campaign. If they continue with the same form, they might even put their Europa league qualification in jeopardy. In the coach’s words, Sevilla are “suffering emotionally”. The coach needs to pull something very special from his hat if he intends to stop this Real Madrid team.
Sevilla have suffered due to injuries to many key players in their campaign so far. Navas has missed many matches and Kanoute and Perotti are injured and will not be available to play against Real Madrid. Negredo is expected to start in place of Kanoute and partner Luis Fabiano in attack. Fabiano hasn’t been as impressive as he was last season and Sevilla will be hoping that Fabiano can show some of his magic against Los Blancos. With Perotti also out with an injury, Sevilla will miss the creative midfielder. With injuries to Arouna Kone, Tiberio Guarente and Ivica Dragutinovic, Sevilla have a lot of problems at the back and it will be difficult for the coach to field a good defence against Real Madrid. After starting against Borussia, Romaric is expected to keep his place in the side.
Probable starting lineup: (4-2-2) Palop, Navarro, Escudé, Dabo, Konko, Cáceres, Zokora, Romaric, Capel, Fabiano, Negredo.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid)
Lass has a point to prove.
Lass has been terrific for Real Madrid since he came on for Ozil in the second half against Barcelona. He has been solid and his ball movement on the pitch has been good. This might be his only chance to remind the coach of his skills, as Xabi Alonso will be available for the next match. Lass will be out to prove that he can match Khedira for a starting berth in the Real Madrid starting eleven.
Real Madrid 3- 0 Sevilla
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST