Friday, 18 November 2011

Jornada 13 Liga Preview: Real Madrid Valrencia Barcelona

Following the disappointments of the international break, La Liga’s
superstars will need to recover all their focus and resolve in another
hugely important weekend in the title race.
Real Madrid’s 3 point lead will be under threat as they face one of
their toughest tests of the season with a visit to 3rd placed
Valencia, while Barcelona will be licking their lips at the prospect
of entertaining a struggling Real Zaragoza at the Camp Nou.

Real are in a rich vein of form and handed Valencia one of their most
humiliating results at the Mestalla last year. Jose Mourinho’s side
were 5-0 up at half-time, going on to win 6-3. This time around, Real
go into the game on the back of four away wins in a row, where they
have notched 11 goals without conceding. They are more or less full
strength, but Mourinho will need to assess the impact of midweek
transatlantic flights on Gonzalo Higuain, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and
Xabi Alonso. Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Arbeloa also picked up
knocks on international duty. Angel Di Maria is out with a hamstring
but Kaka is back from injury.

Valencia are in a hot run of form themselves with four wins in a row
but will be without midfield trio Sergio Canales, Ever Banega and
Hedwiges Maduro who are all suffering from lengthy injuries.

Barcelona’s Pep Guadiola will have similar selection head-aches to
Mourinho for the matchup with Zaragoza. Winger Adriano returned from
international duty injured, and Spanish forward Pedro is still out,
but the rest of the squad is near full strength, barring the impact of
jet-lag. Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets, Victor Valdes,
Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa all returned from a long
trip as they formed part of Spain's squad that played in Costa Rica on
Tuesday.Messi played in both Argentina’s matchups in South America.
Barca also have a vital visit to AC Milan next week as they look to
secure top spot in their Champions League group.

Zaragoza currently lie in 16th place. Portuguese striker Helder
Postiga is finding his feat and is the away side’s best hope of a
goal. Real Madrid hit 6 against them at the start of the season and
the away side will surely be just hoping for damage limitation.

In Saturday’s opening fixture, Villarreal will host Real Betis. The
Verderones have managed to stop losing – just. Following six losses on
the bounce, they managed to hold Malaga to a 0-0 draw last time out.
They will be looking to take advantage of an inconsistent Villarreal.
Beleagured manager Juan Carlos Garrido has lead the Yellow Submarine
to two clean sheets in a row, however he is still without three of his
main attacking threats in Rossi, Nilmar and Cani. A lot will rest on
young striker Marco Ruben.

Fourth placed Levante will be desperate to stop their slide down the
table. Having been top of the pile, they have now lost two in a row
and face a tricky visit to Atletico Madrid. Atletico will be without
their record signing Falcao but in U21 star Adrian, they have a more
than capable stand-in. Playmaker Diego has been quietly finding his
form and Levante will need to stifle the Brazilian dynamo if they want
to stop their losing streak.

Sevilla take on Atletico Bilbao in what should be one of the games of
the round. Blibao’s last match against Barcelona is already being
billed as one of the greatest games in recent Liga history, and
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are starting to impress, now unbeaten in five.
Sevilla have not won in five so the momentum will be with the away

Real Sociedad are in free-fall without a win in seven. They face an
in-form Espanyol side who are once again exceeding expectations with
an excellent start to the season. Real Sociedad will be without
suspended defender Inigo Martinez.

Osasuna have a strong home record and need to bounce back from their
7-1 thrashing at San Sebastien. They take on surprise package Rayo
Vallecano who come into the game off the back of a 4-0 win over

We have a couple of relegation dog-fights in Sporting Gijon v Getafe
and Granada v Mallorca, while Monday night sees the multi-millionaires
of Malaga visiting Racing Santander.

First 11.
Diego Lopez (Vil), Nyom (Gran), Siqueira (gran), Musacchio (vil),
Catala (vil), Diego (AM), Reyes (aM), Fabregas(bar), Ronaldo (rm),
Messi, Benzema

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