Real Madrid v Villarreal PreviewBy: Kaushik | January 8th, 2011
Real Madrid – Villarreal
Sunday 1900 hours local
Real Madrid welcome 3rd placed side Villarreal to the Santiago Bernebeu in what is looking like a mouthwatering football contest in store for fans.
We are playing the yellow submarine.. yellow submarine.. yellow submarine
Villarreal — 2-4 vs Valencia (Copa-W) ; 2-0 vs Almeria (Liga-W) ; 0-0 at Valencia (Copa-D) ; 3-1 vs Mallorca (Liga-W) ; 1-2 @Bruges (Europa-W)
Real Madrid — 2-0 at Levante (Copa-L) ; 2-3 at Getafe (Liga – W) ; 8-0 vs Levante (Copa – W) ; 1-0 vs Sevilla (Liga-W) ; 1-3 @Zaragoza (Liga-W)
Villarreal have clearly been the unanimous 3rd best side in the Liga whether it is in the form of results or in their fluidity of football. They play a very simple Spanish 4-4-2 system, which seems unbelievable in today’s mostly 4-2-3-1 footballing world. The list of results above this clearly show that the yellow submarines are going into the game with good confidence. Also judging by the way they approached the Barcelona game, we can expect the team to not wilt against us like some teams may have. That said, we aren’t going into the games with the best of runs either. If you look at just the scores of the last 5 games, it may even appear that we could be the 2nd best team here. Just sayin.
Strategy and Team news
As I said earlier Villarreal play a pretty straight forward 4-4-2. As far as I am aware, they do not have any injuries or suspensions, so their first XI should look like this.
Angel Lopez – Gonzalo – Catala – Capdevilla
Cazorla – Bruno – Borja – Cani
Nilmar – Rossi
Looks like a pretty solid team to me. It must mean something if a recovering Senna, who has been quite influential to them in recent years does not walk in to the lineup. Diego Lopez is a fantastic keeper. Coming from our youth ranks, he was sold to Villareal few seasons ago for a pretty high sum for a keeper. He has been quite consistent at the back for Villarreal and is known to have great shot blocking ability, only inferior to Iker. The defense, although may not be very popular from a names stand point has conceded few goals this season. Youth product Catala has had a breakout season, and is considered one of the fastest rising defensive prospects around. Capdevilla and co bring in experience that is capable of handling an attack like ours. Only downside I can see is though, is their speed or lack of it.
In the centre of midfield Bruno and Borja run riot. Bruno is a defensive playmaker slowly rising through the ranks, taking over the starting role around this time last season. Also capable of playing left back, makes him a threat while attacking, which is great quality to have in a DM. He has also made the Spanish national team whenever the A team is rested. Borja meanwhile, is another ex-canterano. I have to admit, I was never a fan of what he offered at his time with Madrid. Maybe he played too little to judge, but I wasn’t too disheartened to have seen him gone. Over the last year or so though, he has emerged, seemingly out of nowhere to be one of the most technical players playing in the centre of the pitch, in La Liga. Maybe his loan spell at West Brom in England sharpened him up. Cani and Cazorla are a very exciting wing combination. They can interchange and play on either wings. Cani is a seasoned campaigner, while Cazorla is their marquee player. A very exciting player on the wing, Cazorla appears to be in a purple patch of his own and our wing backs should be wary of his speed and trickery. Recovering from a herniated disc surgery ( You thinking what I’m thinking? ) he has come back better than expected for someone recovering from the same.
Their forward line is also a deceptively quiet, yet scary one. Rossi is one of the best support strikers in the league. It is also dangerous that he has had a healthy scoring record this season. Again tricky and quick, our defenders have to be on top of their games. Nilmar is another brilliant signing for them. Rare breed of non-cocky Brazilians who are fantastic players these days, he is full of pace and almost ran Barcelona riot. In my opinion he is the numero uno threat from their side. Coach Garrido has continued a nice system left by Senor Pellegrini, to maintain the reputation of Villarreal as the feel good team or the darling team of the league.
As is evident, our opponents are a strong team, and this is going to be one of our toughest matches in the league. I am happy this is coming as a home fixture at this moment of injuries, lack of form, suspension etc. Pepe suffered from an injury and will most likely miss 4 weeks, which is a big blow to our defence because him and Carvalho were beginning to form a very solid pairing. It will appear Albiol will most likely fill the void. Although, I feel, Mourinho isn’t the biggest fan of Albiol and would rather slot in Ramos at the centre, leaving Arbeloa to play RB. But that is not happening tomorrow, because Arbeloa is still suspended (right?) In the centre Mourinho has a problem. The person playing next to Alonso, seems like a problem that will not leave us for a long time. Khedira after returning from his minor injury has been worse than you can expect him to be. Lass has impressed once in a while, but keeps throwing fits about leaving the club, and may not do well thanks to the lack of motivation, like we saw previously against Getafe. Moruinho’s new sweet heart Gago may not be match ready yet, but don’t be shocked if he does start there eventually. Granero, umm just won’t get a game, so let’s not bother. Front 4 should most likely be what we have can expect in Di Maria, Ronaldo, Ozil and Benzema. Kaka may get a solid 30 odd minute run out if things are ( or are not in one way ) going according to plan. Its the weekend, and the league, so its tough to expect a good performance from Mr Benzegol (where are the goals? ) For his own good, I hope he scores, because on form he looks really elegant, just a matter of confidence. Di Maria, has just got to do what he has kept on doing ( except the diving please ). Same goes for Ronaldo. Ozil should probably start getting involved from deeper in attacking play because the centre midfield duo of Villarreal is quite good, as I have repeated ever so often.
Ramos – Albiol – Carvalho – Marcelo
Alonso – MysteryMan
Di Maria – Ozil – Ronaldo
I expect the starting line up to be that. Tactics wise, I think we should look to attack the wings, which has also been our strong point, because I feel their defence might be a touch slow for us. That said, we can also expect threat from their wing mostly, so we better be good defending there as well. Kaka may play an important role if things are tight till the end. I hope though, that he comes on for say Ozil this time instead of Benzema. Traditionally striker-less sort of makes our strategy easily readable to opponents. I missed most of the Copa game, but what I saw of the 15 mins Kaka got against Getafe was that everyone were obsessed with giving the ball to Kaka and letting him work the magic. Not everytime sirs. But then again, that could just be that everyone was so excited to have him back so they wanted him to do well. Either way, Ronaldo adds a dangerous dimension to his game because he is such a threat even if he is a ‘midfielder’. I for one am not in favour of moving him to striker.
Q&A with Matt from theVillarreal Offside blog
1) Congrats on the Copa del Rey victory. Great Comeback. How do you feel this about a boost in morale before facing a big opponent, Real Madrid?
Anytime you comeback in cup football vs who I consider Villarreal’s biggest rival in La Liga is quite an accomplishment in itself but to have the privilege of playing Los Blancos in the next game, moral will be quite high. You have New Jersey Born Giuseppe Rossi coming into the match with 18 strikes on the season (including 2 vs. Valencia). To beat one of the greatest teams on the planet you have to come in playing your best football in the victory in Copa del Rey definitely shows that Villarreal is just doing that and being third in the table they are defintely playing competitive football as well. It will be interesting to see how Giuseppe Rossi and company fare against the tulmtuous duo of Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho.
2) How is your team looking forward to the match and whom are the players we expect to see and who do you figure will be a major threat for Real?
This game will about the Midfield for both teams. Real has some very strong MID with Ozil, Kheidra, Di Maria and Diarra. Though Diarra has lacked 1st Team opportunities I thoroughly believe he will at the very least feature if not start. When playing a team like Real you can never count out arguably the best player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo. I think for this game he will be neutralized by the Villarreal defense because my belief their game plan is simply shot prevention. Do whatever is necessary to make sure a Ronaldo or Ozil do not have the lane to get that first touch and put a legitimate bid on goal. This is only a handful of teams that beats you just because get so many shots and sooner or later something has to go in.
3) How confident do you think Villareal going in to this match, as number 3 on the table?
This season Villarreal has had some hiccups like all teams do but coming off their recent victory they have a very good shot to win. They have Rossi and Nilmar playing some of their best football of their careers and it will be interesting to see if they have both start this game in the 4-4-2 set. All striking power aside I think the key for victory for Villarreal will be Capevilla. It is imperative for him to prevent a player like Angel Di Maria or Mesuit Ozil getting the ball into center for a finish by Ronaldo. For Villarreal to win, they need to play smart football. I did a match review in which Villarreal had 3 yellow cards. They cannot give Real free kicks around the 18 where a man like Ronaldo or Ozil could strike a free kick. If you give Real even the smallest opening they will see it and expose it. When you have like a man like Jose Mourinho at the reins of a club like Real Madrid you take any opportunity you get and give none.
4) Who in your opinion are Real’s most dangerous players and how do you plan to counter them?
I believe Cristiano Ronaldo is Real Madrid’s most dangerous player because I remember when he was at Man U. I still remember watching a goal he hit against FC Porto where he hit it upper 90 from at least 40 yards out. I would look up the goal if you haven’t seen it already, it is one if not the greatest goal I have ever witnessed hands down. I think it will be up to a man like Marcos Senna or Capevilla to get the marking down on who is going to cover this guy and the key for shutting him down is clean football. That is how you shut him down, you do not give him a lane to strike and you do not allow that first touch. Ronaldo is a fantastic player but like all players he can shut down but not getting that first touch. Villarreal must force him to take strikes that have no chance of being put on goal.
Prediction: Villarreal 1-0 Real Madrid
I believe the game will be level pegging till the 82 minute and Marcos Senna heads home a winner past Casillas.
Thanks a lot for that Matt. Always lovely to have opponent views as well for our readers.
I hope the preview gave you guys what you had hoped for. Looking forward to a tough game, and hopefully we come away with a good result. Who do you think will start in the MysteryMan role? What should be our tactics? What will the result be? Discuss away.