Friday, 28 October 2011

Jornada 11 preview and predictions


Some figures to mull over:

Barcelona v Mallorca

Barcelona will be looking to regain some fluency this weekend at home to struggling Mallorca. After 28 goals in their first seven games, the champions have only managed one in their past two outings and currently lie 3rd in La Liga. However, Pep Guardiola’s side have only dropped points once at home this season, and that was down to an astonishing goalkeeping performance from Sevilla’s Javi Varas in their last game at the Nou Camp.

The Catalans welcomed back international defensive duo Puyol and Pique back to training this week and both should feature. Summer signing Alexis Sanchez also returned after a 6 week absence and could be in line for a starting place with Pedro injured.

It is not easy to see how Mallorca can hope to get anything from the game despite having escaped with a 1-1 draw in the same fixture last season. They come into the game on the back of a 2-1 defeat at home to Sporting Gijon and lie 13th. Some magic from midfield talisman Gonzalo Castro will be their best hope of upsetting the odds.

Real Sociedad v Real Madrid

Real Madrid are in a rich vein of form having scored three or more in their last 5 Liga games and kept four clean sheets. That run has included two 4-0 away wins in a row and the signs are ominous for Real Sociedad who have lost four of their last five and are currently 15th. Jose Mourinho has no new injury concerns and a near full squad to call on.

The Portuguese manager is likely to rotate on the back of the midweek victory over Villarreal. Gonzalo Higuain was rested for Benzema against the Yellow Submarine but should be back to lead the line. The Argentine has 8 goals from his last four appearances and can well be expected to add to his tally of 9 for the season in this game. Kaka could well be rested for Ozil who was benched midweek. Summer signing Nuri Sahin is tipped to make his first appearance while fellow new boys Rafael Varane and Fabio Coentrao could also be in line to start.

Sociedad’s will be hoping that Xabi Prieto can dominate his midfield battle against his Basque counterpart, Xabi Alonso, and on-loan Carlos Vela can probe and find space against a formidable Madrid defence.

Valencia v Getafe

Valencia are heavy favourites to beat Getafe at the Mestalla and need the points to keep within touching distance of 3rd placed Real Madrid. Valencia are in good if unspectacular form, and haven’t managed more than 1 goal in a game since their 2-2 draw against Barcelona last month. The promising Sergio Canales is now out for several months with knee ligaments.

Apart from Canales, the Andalucians have a near full strength squad but could rotate following the midweek victory at Zaragoza. Tino, Jonas, Mathieu and Aduriz could all be promoted to the starting line up.
Getafe have only taken 1 point away all season, and despite ex-Spain international Daniel Guiza getting his first goals of the season in midweek, the Azulones will be lucky to get anything from the game.

Villarreal vs Rayo Vallecano

Villarreal’s season is going from bad to worse with the news this week that star striker Guiseppe Rossi has been ruled out for 6 months with a knee injury. With Nilmar still recovering from surgery, this leaves Juan Carlos Garrido’s side with just one fit striker in the form of rookie Ruben. The Submarines are going through one of their worst starts to a Liga campaign with just one win and currently lie in the relegation zone. They will need a big performance from their attacking midfielders Cani, De Guzman and even Camunas if they are not to go down to yet another disappointing defeat.

Liga new boys Rayo Vallecano have made an excellent start to their first season in the top league for 8 years and currently lie 9th. They will be buoyant after an impressive midweek win at home against Malaga and the likes of Raul Tamudo and Michu will relish the opportunity to get at a shaky Villarreal defence.

Sunday

Osasuna v Levante

Top of the table Levante will be looking to maintain their lead with a win at Osasuna. Osasuna are strong at home with the likes of Cejudo and prodigal son Raul Garcia pulling the strings in midfield. However, it would be foolish to bet against Levante who keep upsetting the odds. Levante’s superb goalkeeper Munua will need another excellent game to hold off the home side.

Atletico Madrid vs Real Zaragoza

While Atletico’s away form has been as dreadful as ever, they remain a good bet at home and should cruise past a patchy Zaragoza. Everyone is waiting for the tantalising forward line of Reyes, Falcao and Diego to click and Zaragoza should allow plenty of opportunity for them to do so.

Malaga vs Espanyol

Despite an excellent start, the multi-millionaires of Malaga have slipped away from the running, while Espanyol have been quietly resurgent; climbing to 6th in the table based on a miserly defence and some excellent goalkeeper performances from Alvarez. For Malaga, Santi Cazorla and co will be desperate to recover their form following the midweek defeat at Rayo Vallecano.

Sporting Gijon vs Atletico Bilbao

Two sides who have been quietly finding some form; perennial strugglers Gijon have been nicking points here and there, while Bilbao are starting to purr under the stewardship of Marcelo Bielsa. The former Argentina and Chile manager has three wins in his last four and star strikers Fernando Llorente and Iker Muniain will be looking to continue their scintillating form against the Liga minnows.

Racing Santander v Real Betis

Real Betis have now lost 5 in a row after their bright start which saw them briefly sitting top of La Liga. Racing Santander are on a rotten run themselves, without a win yet this season. The Cantabrians almost pulled off a surprise win at Sevilla in midweek and will be buoyed by the performance. Both sides are in desperate need of a win.

Monday

Sevilla vs Granada

Sevilla have the form in this tie and should triumph over bottom of the table Granada. Manu del Moral has been a revelation up front but star striker Alfredo Negredo could return to the starting line up after coming off the bench midweek. In midfield, Ivan Rakitic is pushing for a start with some eye-catching displays as a sub, while Piotr Trochowski is also starting to look a real force.

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