Sporting Gijon vs Real Madrid | Preview
Real Madrid will face Sporting Gijon at El Molinon later tonight in round 11 of La Liga in what would be a feisty and fiery affair in the Asturian town considering all the pre-match havoc caused by both the managers thanks to some fairly good bad-mouthing. Real Madrid have not lost at Gijon since Raul’s debut season under Jorge Valdano in 1994 – a season which saw Real end up as League winners. But that has nothing to do with the game tonight as we all saw last season when Gijon were able to successfully though scrappily keep Real from netting for 90 plus minutes in the corresponding fixture. They might deploy the same strategy this season as well but we can expect them to be a lot more physical than they generally are as this game has past the stage when it was a totally on-the-field battle.
Real Madrid go into the game as league leaders and are currently on a 5 match winning streak. They will be looking to get their sixth on the trot but will have to do so without the likes of Kaka, Gago, Canales, Garay, Mateos and Dudek. Apart from these injured players we will also be missing Jose Mourinho, though only from the touchline as the Special One is serving a two-match ban for his sending off against Murcia. And that I feel will be crucial. Mourinho as we all know is very active on the touchline continually issuing orders to his players and spurring them on and his absence will and should definitely be felt. Aitor Karanka will take his place and I am sure there will be a lot of communication between Jose and his number two irrespective of how far apart they are. Someone who will be there and for the first time with the senior squad would be Fernando Pacheco who won his first call up to the senior team following the injury to Dudek. I still wonder why Mourinho prefers having three goalkeepers in his squad list.
Goalkeepers: Casillas, Adan, Fernando Pacheco
Defenders: Carvalho, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Albiol
Midfielders: Granero, Xabi Alonso, Diarra, Pedro Leon, Khedira, Ozil, Di Maria, Lass
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuain, Benzema
Sporting on the other hand have no injury worries and should line up full strength, if they do have hopes of beating us. What Real have to worry about is the fact that even though Sporting clearly don’t have enough in them to beat the top teams in the league, they do have the ability to cling on for a draw. They don’t mind parking the team bus in front of their goal and they don’t mind making it look dirty. They have creditable draws against Villareal, Atheltic, Sevilla and Mallorca and lost to Barca just by a goal’s margin clearly indicating their attitude towards these big games – just don’t drop three points. It will probably be tougher for us considering the reception we are bound to receive. Alberto Lora, arguably their best player, both agrees and disagrees with me.
Strategically I don’t think there are any specifics that we need to attend to. We will be reverting back to our usual line up. And that’s one good thing about this season. Our strategy for every game has been standard. We are making our opponents do changes to the way they play unlike the last few seasons when we used to change our line up based on the threats. I feel that this solidarity plays a critical role in the development of the team as a whole. I am not against changing formations but it is always better to stick with one and persist with it until and unless the situation calls for it.
Los Rojiblancos meet los Merengues at 19:00 CET and the match will be refereed by Turienzo Alvarez and I hope he can protect our players from the physical endurance that they might face. We cannot risk going back home with injured players at this crucial stage. A draw does seem probable but I surely feel it isn’t possible. Real are on a roll and nothing is going to change tonight.
Para Siempre Blanco!