Almería v Real Madrid, Friday 19.45
We’d all like to know the truth. What the hell is the magic elixir that allows a group of players poor enough to get the previous coach sacked to suddenly produce a power-play in the first game under new management and perform like world-beaters?
It has happened throughout the history of football but the most recent example was the Real Sociedad shirkers getting Jagoba Arrasate the heave-ho and then going out and beating the Spanish champions within a couple of days under the temporary control of Asier Santana.
So, Almería have eschewed the normal logic of letting Fran Rodríguez take a doing in this match against the European champions and THEN sacking him so that the new guy has a less fearsome start. Miguel Rivera is Johnny Two-Jobs this weekend, running the first team’s attempt to knock Madrid off their stride tonight and then back in the saddle with Almería B on Saturday afternoon against Granada B.
Miguel Rivera: “Me he encontrado una predisposición increíble, quiero dar las gracias públicamente a los jugadores” pic.twitter.com/R1NpnTudxI
— UD Almería (@U_D_Almeria) December 11, 2014
“It’s like winning the lottery,” reckons Rivera, whose cup minnows, Ecija, drew with Real Madrid 1-1 back in 2006.
In his favour should be the fact that this lot very nearly took three points off Barcelona a couple of weeks ago and that while Almería have won just once in 10 attempts [all time] against Madrid, since 2008 there have been two draws and a home win between the clubs at this stadium.
Which is not to ignore the fact that unless Madrid have their mind on the impending flight to Morocco for the World Club Championship then they’ll win. By hook or crook.
The quality of their football has dipped from boiling to simmering over the last couple of games but the flood of goals has, largely continued.
Ronaldo was niggly in midweek against Ludogorets, partly at Gareth Bale’s occasional choice to favour attempting to score ahead of feeding the team leader.
- On that subject, IF you want to ignore Ronaldo’s goal chances in this extraordinarily prolific season of his [over 30 goals in all competitions by early December] then Bale scored home and away against Almería last season, as did Isco who added a clutch of goal assists too.
- Karim Benzema interests – eight in 12 in La Liga, five in five in the Champions League. It might just be that if Bale and Ronaldo aren’t feeding each other goals with the same vigor, perhaps the Frenchman will be the beneficiary of their assists.
Madrid by two, Isco and Benzema good candidates, but first goal important and for those in-play keep a close eye on whether players who have an impending date with a world title perhaps hold a little back. (Under Match Specials: Madrid to win by exactly two goals is 3/1)
Ref Álvarez Izquierdo: 11 matches with Madrid, eight wins, one draw two defeats – away to Celta and Sevilla.
Last weekend, Graham predicted the following on the Paddy Power Blog: Atletico -1.0 to beat Elche (won), a three-goal win for Real Madrid against Celta (won), Sevilla to beat Rayo (won), and Barca by three against Espanyol… which won. Decent.