La Liga Midweek Preview – Villarreal Travel To Madrid, Barca Take On Granada

But, Mourinho has been clearly rotating his front man which means that Benzema will start ahead of El Pipita.

GRANADA CF

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FC BARCELONA

October 25, 2011

Expecting anything but a Barcelona victory will probably mean insanity. Higuain has been super impressive and with nine goals so far, he has silenced all his critics. Against Malaga, Los Blancos were not in total control throughout the match but their staggering first half display in which Cristiano Ronaldo scored a terrific hat trick – including a back-heeled volley- was enough for them to come away with three points.  Guiseppe Rossi will be their lone striker and he will have Cani, Hernán Pérez and Guzman behind him for assistance.

Abidal and Alves will provide the width with their surging runs. They are languishing in the relegation zone and is likely to remain there after this match as well.

Villarreal are a side having the ability to play technical and possession football but their biggest problem is their defense. They currently resemble a relegation outfit and the shock of losing Cazorla seems to have taken more time than imagined.

Pep Guardiola will be disappointed with his team and also for the fact that they have now slipped to third place and more importantly one point behind Real Madrid. Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol will have no part to play in this encounter because of their respective injuries.

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After dismantling the might of Malaga, Real Madrid now turn their attention to Villarreal. Also, Coentrão will, in all probability, be assigned the job of marking Villarreal’s primary play maker, Borja Valero.

Villarreal

It’s hard to imagine whats going on in Juan Carlos Garrido’s mind at the moment. They were humbled by Levante at home and before that lost to Manchester City in the most unfortunate circumstances inspite of dominating the match. The only thing that remains to be seen is the number of goals scored by the European champions.

Villarreal need to press Real Madrid right for the start but they have to be careful in doing so. Though Malaga did come hard at them in the second half, particularly Joaquin and Cazorla taking center stage, they could not break Madrid’s defense thanks to San Iker and the goal post.

Expected Starting XI (4-2-3-1) – Casillas(GK);Marcelo,Ramos,Pepe,Arbeloa; Coentrão, Alonso; Ronaldo,Özil,Di Maria; Benzema

Mourinho has been consistently rotating his six bullets, with Cristiano Ronaldo being the only constant. Inspite of having 74% possession and 21 shots on goal, the Catalans could not break Sevilla. The central defense will comprise of Marchena and Gonzalo with Zapata at right back and  José Manuel Catalá at left back.

***. In Carlos Marchena and Zapata, they have good defenders but lacking in pace and if Villarreal do play their usual high line pressing football, Real Madrid can tear them apart on the counter attacks. Fábio Coentrão is available and can replace Khedira, to provide the German some rest before they travel to Anoeta.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Real Madrid

José Mourinho’s move of replacing Ramos with Arbeloa and moving the former to the centre alongside Pepe seems to have worked wonders with Ramos’ confidence. They have just accumulated seven points in the eight games played so far and are also virtually out of the Champions League. The Yellow Submarines are in 16th position in the La Liga table, which speaks volumes about their terrible season so far. They cannot afford any more slip ups and Granada may be thinking that they could be the next team in Messi’s firing line.

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REAL MADRID CF

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VILLARREAL

Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

October 26, 2011; 2000 hrs GMT

Expected Starting XI (3-4-3) -  Valdes(GK); Abidal, Mascherano, Alves; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc; Messi, Villa, Pedro

Villarreal are coming into this match with a crisis of confidence. The trio of Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta will feature in the starting line-up and alongside them, Cesc Fabregas, the villain of the Camp Nou drama last week, will have a part to play.

October 25, 2011; 1800 hrs GMT

Diego Lopez will be guarding the goal for the Yellow Submarines and the visiting side will be expecting a Varas-sque performance for their goal keeper. Nothing has been going right for them and it is probably the wrong time for them to be facing a fully-charged Real Madrid.

Expected starting XI (4-2-3-1) : Roberto(GK);Sequeira,Mainz,Lopez,Nyom; Jara,Fran Rico; Uche,Yabda,Benitez;Geijo

Team News and Tactical brief

FC Barcelona

Guardiola is expected to play with 3-4-3 considering how poor Granada have been on the attacking front. Real Madrid Castilla’s ex-captain, Fran Rico will play the role of a deep-lying playmaker for the Andalucians.

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Granada FC

Granada have been miserable in their first season in the top division. They have scored a mere two goals and have accumulated only five points so far. His outings as a right back were being questioned and this momentary shift has reinvigorated the Spaniard. Di Maria had a fantastic game against Malaga and was replaced by Callejón in the second half which means that Mourinho was saving the Argentine for Villarreal.

Garrido may not make any changes to the team that played against Levante, and Nilmar is out for two months for a knee surgery.

Xabi Alonso, the indefatigable midfielder, has now played in almost all games and respite does not seem an option for the Spaniard. Lionel Messi will be definitely looking to make amends for his penalty miss and a flurry of goals are expected from the Argentine superstar.

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The only way Granada can hope to gain one point from this match is to park the bus and pray to the heavens to make the ball hit the post rather the net, everytime.

Their play maker, Hassan Yebda has suffered a muscle strain but is expected to be fit for the game. Villarreal are not a side who will stay back and park the bus, they will look to score goals and be adventurous but they need to be cautious in their approach.

Villa and Pedro are expected to make the cut. Though Barcelona owe their draw to the brilliance of Javi Varas, they will also rue the fact that they could have won the game had Messi converted his penalty deep into stoppage time.

Expected Starting XI(4-2-3-1) – Diego Lopez(GK); Catala, Marchena, Gonzalo, Zapata; Bruno,Valero; Perez, Guzman, Cani; Rossi

Borja Valero will play as the deep-lying play-maker in a 4-2-3-1 with Bruno alongside him. Kaka was poor against Malaga and is expected to be rested in favor of Özil. Mourinho may decide to stick to the same defensive combination considering how efficient it has turned out to be.

FC Barcelona had an unsual game at the weekend. One of the brightest teams last year, Villarreal’s season looks to be in the doldrums. Mascherano has been immense as a sweeper-cum-central defender and will play the same role

Amelia Woodward

Amelia Woodward

Hopefully you will now be less likely to fall for a system that doesn't work. There are systems that can and will bring you rewards but it is imperative that you know what you are buying first.
Amelia Woodward

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