Cliches Abound This WeekendBy: Corey | January 3rd, 2009
Real Madrid vs. Vilarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu Sunday 11am eastern time (17:00 GMT)
I had to do it! I am not the biggest Beatles fan, probably because my room mate is such a fag when it comes to music, ardently saying the Beatles were the greatest band ever, while I disagree, pointing to Led Zepplin, Bob Marley and the Wailers or even Hall and Oates as being some of the greatest bands ever. May disagree with Hall and Oates? Take a look at their catalogue and tell me you dont know atleast the chorus to all of their songs. Go ahead, try…
Well this weekend we have a return to La Liga action, which means a return to me not doing anything on the main La Liga matchday (usually Saturday) which is really affecting my lifestyle considering that the NFL owns my Sundays. But alas, even with one weekend off, I have missed La Liga and its glory, and am especially eager to see how Juande’s Revolustion will continue to surprise and amaze all of us. Alot of potential for things to start getting alot better, so lets get on with the preview then.
Vilarreal, the Yellow Submarines of course, have been a little off form of late, loosing to Sevilla and Barca which has seen them slide down the table a bit. But the real telling statistics for the Submarine is that since they first got promoted to La Liga 9 years ago, they have not beaten Real in the Bernabeu. Now there is talk from Robert Pires, Giuseppi Rossi and Diego Lopez of this streak ending this weekend:
“On the one hand we are happy with the impression we gave, but on the other a bit disappointed at having lost against what for me is currently the best team in the league,”
“I am sure that if we play with the same motivation against Real Madrid we can get something positive from the match,”. “One of these days Villarreal has to win there and that day could be Sunday.”
We start the year with a very motivating game for any player. Playing in the Bernabéu is very difficult but I believe that we can achieve a positive result and win,” he told Marca.
“Our intention is to go to Madrid and win, since it is important not to lose track of those above us, that is where we want to be,” he concluded.
“To win at the Bernabéu is difficult, to even score is hard, but Villarreal can do it,” he declared.
“If we play a good game, serious and organised, we can win it, and we go with that objective. We start the year with two difficult games away from home, and we need to pick up points.”
“We are not in great form, having lost two games in a row, and we need to win, but they are not in the best form either. I believe they have improved a lot with their new coach, but they should still be trying to gather styles and tactics for their play,” he mused.
“If we play like we did against Barcelona then we can win, even though I do not see Madrid in crisis like people say. On Sunday they are favourites, but we will see what we can do.”
I dont see Vilarreal winning this game, for the simple fact that Diego Lopez pointed out, they are not in good form right now, and I dont think a week off will change that to much. Manuel Pellegrini’s side, for all of its supposive depth, has looked a little shallow this year, with a few injuries forcing some more awkward changes this season. Recently they have recovered most of their injured players, most notably Nihat and Gonzalo who is returning to form after two years of knee injuries.
In the defense I expect to see Angel and Capdevila on the wings, with Gonzalo and Godin in the middle. Its a pretty sturdy backline, with quality attacking fullbacks that do their share of defending as well. It will be interesting to see how far they push their backline up the field, because the lack of pace that the two central defenders have usually dictates a pretty deep line, which includes a very deep defensive midfielder. Of course at the Bernabeu where they have never won, it seems almost logical to stay deep, but I expect Pellegrini to press Real for the ball, and if they cant win the duel in midfield they will drop deep.
The players Pellegrini uses are sometimes odd, with his tactical approach usually clear but the tools he uses to achieve them being a little strange. I for one am always surprised with the use of Eguren over Edmilson on a continuos basis. Edmilson is a great player, often unheralded for his contributions to a team, but then again when you have Senna in your team most of Edmilson’s work is done for him. This means it is puzzling to see a double pivot so often from Pellegrini, who could use Ibagaza or Matias Fernandez on top of having two strikers. Of course this may be a risky approach when on the road, but at home it seems a no brainer to me to force the opposition to deal with all of your attacking talent.
When the teams do line up, I hope to see Eguren and Senna together because it means less pressure on Gago. He will be busy handling Ibagaza, although there is a good possibility that they start with two strikers up front simply because they once again are injury free in that department. Vilarreal fans will be happy to see Rossi, Nihat and Llorente all fit for selection, which means Altidore and the awful Guil Franco will most likely miss out. Out wide we will see Pires and Santi Cazorla, which should not be much of a surprise. Sergio Ramos will most likely be restored to right back for the match so he will have to keep Pires quiet, something I think he can do very well. Cazorla will torment Marcelo or Heinze, but what else is new.
Real Madrid News:
Only two “injured” players technically. Ruud, Diarra and Ruben are all out long term, while Higuain has a sore throat and will miss the match, and Torres has picked up another injury and didnt train much this week so he has to be left out. Javi Garcia, Marcelo and Codina are also left out of the match day squad. All possible summer releases? Me thinks so.
Ramos, Salgado, Heinze, Pepe, Cannavaro, Metzelder
Guti, Gago, Lass, Sneijder, Robben, Drenthe, Van der Vaart
Palanca, Raúl, Huntelaar, Saviola
A sensible selection, with Torres and Higuain being the only two players who shouldnt be left out but are for legitimate reasons. Oh and Parejo has an injury, a sprained internal lateral ligment. Nothing to serious but he will miss a few weeks most likely. Huntelaar is in line to make his debut, while I expect Lass will be on the bench, with Juande looking to Robben and Sneijder to provide creativity and Guti to sit deeper with Gago and pull the strings. Guti really needs to be further forward to be at his best, but I do think that he can do a decent job next to Gago, and it will be alot more positive then having Lass there, or more pragmatic then Van der Vaart. Drenthe or Palanca will make a cameo at some point to provide extra width if it is needed, but until Juande finds his right winger he will use Sneijder on the “right”.
Ramos on the right seems more sensible then Salgado considering Pepe, Metzelder and Canna are fit. Marcelo is left out so Heinze is an automatic selection at left back. I would think Pepe takes Metzelder’s place, but Metz and Canna have looked good together against Valencia and Barca, so with Pepe coming off yet another injury, it may be best to leave him on the bench. Considering Metz and Canna handled Etoo and Villa pretty well, I think they could do as good a job against Rossi or Nihat, while Llorente is the kind of center forward that Metzelder specializes in defending against. Should be a good battle.
Is Huntelaar healthy enough to start?
He has been training with his teammates having recovered from his sprained ankle, but the last four or five weeks have been at a slower pace than the team. He might have trouble holding up for ninety minutes, but I have to decide whether to use him at the beginning or at the end. I will make the decision tomorrow.
What are your thoughts on the Lass and Huntelaar matter?We still have a month to decide who will play. There’s plenty of time and a lot can happen. There can be injuries or players can hit a rough spot, so right now we are in no hurry to decide.
Was signing Lass Diarra your idea?
The decision was pretty much made when I arrived, and I told the club that he had enough talent to play for Real Madrid. All decisions are agreed upon before making the final call.
Were you surprised after reading the UEFA rule?
Yes. No one knew about it, but we have a month to resolve the matter.
Your thoughts on Villarreal?
A great team that has had several magnificent seasons. They are in excellent form and have made it to the last 16 of the Champions League. I am sure it will be a great match. They will be very motivated to win in the Bernabéu.
How do the new players look?
Parejo is slightly injured, but the rest trained hard this week and are trying to do the best job possible to impress the coach.
How many slip-ups can Madrid afford?
With the distance between us and the leader, we need to tally three points every weekend and hope our rivals lose. We will play hard until finally catching up.
Do you think fatigue from playing one additional competition can affect Barcelona?
Real Madrid needs to focus on winning its own matches. The key is to win three points every weekend. But we also have to have other teams slip up. Only by winning will we have a chance to cut into the lead.
Did you encounter more problems than expected?
I would say they are unexpected problems. It’s a situation that caught us all off-guard, but everything will be okay if things are resolved. Especially if we hit a winning streak. Everything will be easier once we become the best sports club out there.
Will you focus more on the Champions League if you don’t tally points in La Liga?
We’re thinking short-term. We have a month and a half to work and train before the elimination tie, and that’s when we’ll decide if one competition deserves more priority.
Do you agree with what Guti said about the current league champion being the favorite to win it again?
I can respect Guti’s opinion. I like to think short-term, and right now I am only concerned about playing a good match against Villarreal and winning three points.
Alright so good stuff from Juande as usual. He is in control of signings, he is in control of the team and he pretty much said that Mijatovic is an idiot that he was not aware of the UEFA rule, although I was not aware of it with regards to UEFA cup players, as opposed to the Champions League cup tie like system. 3 points is the goal tomorrow, so dont expect a beautiful game, but an efficient performance and some great ball movement between both teams. Should be a great match, I doubt we will get a liveblog, so leave your match day comments here. I am gonna see if I can watch the match on my Mac, I havent had any luck yet and have been using my old Dell, but I think, I think I found a solution. HALA MADRID!!!!