Los Azulones try to keep their strong run going against los Blancos, their city rivals...
Last year closed in the Primera Division on a weekend in which Barcelona was the focus as Barca met Espanyol. The fresh year begins with the capital, Madrid, claiming the spotlight, with upstarts Getafe hosting Real Madrid on Monday night.
Los Azulones have been one of Spanish football’s success stories over recent years, rising from a relatively modest status to become one of the elite teams in the country, working successfully on the basis of nurturing talented youths before selling them on for big money. Pedro Leon, now warming the bench with los Blancos, is a perfect example of how the south Madrid side get their success.
Yet a relatively steady flow of players out of the exit door doesn’t seem to impede el Geta from enjoying significant success. Michel’s men were expected to find the going tough this season, but they’ve impressive shrugged off the loss of several key men in the summer to climb to seventh, a mere two points off Champions League qualification.
A strong run of form just before the Christmas break largely explains their strong league position. Elimination from the Europa League has been forgotten thanks to an impressive winning streak of four matches, with Sevilla, Mallorca and Villarreal three of the scalps taken. The pause in the season may just have come at the wrong time for Michel and his side, who will go into Monday’s game effectively looking to start anew.
Still Coming Together
Still on the coattails of Barcelona, Real Madrid continue to strive to become Spanish football’s ultimate force. Embarrassed by their great rivals at Camp Nou earlier this season, los Blancos have barely missed a beat thereafter, relentlessly winning fixtures through until the winter break.
Jose Mourinho has installed a tremendous mentality in his side. Though they’ve often struggled to find their top gear, Madrid have always found a way to win, and this was never better emphasised than in their final Liga game of 2010, when they were reduced to 10 men and were being battered yet somehow found a way to beat Sevilla 1-0.
Moves at the Bernabeu over the course of the next month are unlikely to drastically reshape the squad that Mourinho had in place. Talk of Kaka leaving has escalated in recent days, while the Portuguese has admitted himself that he would like at least one more centre forward to provide Karim Benzema and the injured Gonzalo Higuain with competition.
The coach is still begging for time before a true judgement is put forward about his first Blanco vintage. “Real Madrid do not only have a different coach and staff; they have half a team which was signed at the beginning of the season – there are five new players in the starting XI,” he told Portuguese daily Record.
With Barcelona so dominant in recent years, there is little patience in Madrid, though progress is certainly being made. If los Merengues want to dominate Spain, they first have to dominate their city, and that means overcoming Getafe.
Borja Fernandez has been training normally with the squad and will be able to feature if desired. Adrian Colunga and Pedro Mosquero could be missing, but Derek Boateng is expected to overcome an issue to feature. Ivan Marcano and Victor Sanchez are banned.
Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe are both suspended, so Sergio Ramos and Raul Albiol are likely to play. Kaka could return from injury, but los Blancos are without Fernando Gago, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Canales and Jerzy Dudek.