Friday, 25 November 2011
Jornada 14 Liga Preview: A visit to the capital for Barca, Madrid and Valencia
The predictions are in. Real Madrid are going to win by a massive margin, Barcelona are going to win too! Lots of wins this weekend. In order of the most likely to win:
So you may like to pick players from those top sides! But of course, as its a double week for Barca only, you will be choosing as many Barca players as possible. In squeezing in Villa, Fabregas and Messi I have very little wriggle room for anyone else of note. I'm hanging on to Diego cos I reckon he's going to be a force for the rest of the season and he could sneak a few points as Real seem to go to sleep for at least 10 minutes or so every game.
If it wasn't a double, I'd love to have more Bilbao and Espanyol chaps. Bilbao's success is very enjoyable and I would like some Llorente and Muniain action this weekend.
Malaga would be a good side to go for too with Cazorla and A.N Other; Isco would be a laugh. A Levante fellow such as Aruna Kone would be fun, just for moral support. I like the speedy Ivorian.
So here's my team anyway. A bit dull. All eyes on Rui Forte.
Here's an extended preview if you have the time and inclination:
All the action will be in Madrid this weekend. The top three all come into their respective games on the back of eye-catching displays in the Champions League, with Barca and Real booking their places in the knock-out stages. Leaders Real host neighbours Atletico, while Barca face a visit to the Madrid suburbs to meet struggling Getafe. Valencia have an awkward trip to Rayo Vallecano.
As ever, Real will be overwhelming favourites against Atletico, who have not won this fixture since the last millenium.
The omens do not look promising for Gregorio Manzano’s side: their hosts simply cannot stop scoring while Atletico currently have the worst away record in their league. Their notoriously shaky defence face the almost impossible task of holding back the irresistible attacking forces of Ronaldo et al. The Portuguese forward will be refreshed after sitting out of the demolition of Dinamo Zagreb in midweek and will surely return to the front line. There will be some speculation about who will accompany the top scorer. Mourinho will rotate his side, opting for a more attacking line-up than the one that edged Valencia at the Mestaella last weekend, and Higuain is often preferred to Benzema to spearhead the attack at the Bernabeau. Carvalho is out with a back injury, and Kaka and Arbeloa are struggling with knocks. Marcelo and Di Maria have both recovered from recent injuries.
Atletico have talked about “winning ugly” but hope will lie in the trickery and talent of the diminutive Diego who is at the heart of everything good they do going forward. Falcao is still missing through injury so Atletico’s own Portuguese star, Pizzi could well continue to lead the line after scoring last week.
Barca’s patchy Liga away form is the reason they are 3 points behind Real. With three drawers and two unimpressive 1-0 wins at Granada and Gijon, there is pressure on Pep Guardiola’s side to up their game away from the Nou Camp. Having just edged the fearsome tests of two of La liga’s lowliest sides, they now have another gimme in a matchup with the struggling minnows Getafe. Iniesta and Adriano are doubts but Pedro is ready to return. Whatever the line-up, this will surely be a prime opportunity for Messi and co to fill their boots and keep up the pressure at the top.
While Getafe have a couple of home wins, they have little to no form. Their Venezuelan star Miku carries the main - if not their only - attacking threat. He misses the creativity that Daniel Parejo (now at Valencia) provided from midfield last season, and his new foil, Dani Guiza is still trying to remember how to play in La Liga. On Loan Pedro "the lion" Leon is still missing with injury.
Valencia face an awkward tie with the mysterious Rayo Vallecano. Rayo have enjoyed some excellent wins and some unpleasant beatings but look healthy in 10th place in the standings. Valencia have not been prolific away from home but have been tidy, picking up three wins from five. The 7-0 thrashing over Genk will no doubt have gone some way to helping them recover from the home loss to Real last week. Valencia have no new injury worries and it’s tempting to go for a low scoring win for Unai Emery’s side.
Despite having lost three in a row, Levante are still the envy of most sides in La Liga, sitting just one point behind Valencia in fourth. The Andalucians have the perfect opportunity to get their season back on track with a home tie against Sporting Gijon. This is surely the ideal time to stop the rot and anything other than a win against the rojiblancos would be a bitter pill to swallow for the home fans after their fantastic start to the season. The likes of Aruna Kone and Ruben Suarez have to lead from the front and take their chances.
Fifth placed Malaga can be expected to take all three points against Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine’s troubles have been well documented, while Malaga are hanging in there and making a nuisance of themselves in fifth. This will most likely be one of the most one sided matches of the weekend. Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Rondon are misfiring and Iscoand Seb Fernandez are the form front men for Malaga.
The rest of the match ups should go with the home side this weekend with Betis, Espanyol and especially Atletico Bilbao picking up wins. Sevilla need to win at Zaragoza, while likewise Mallorca severely need the points at home to Racing Santander.