The La Liga is bracing up for one of its most exciting title races this season and it will continue to enthrall us in this gameweek’s fixture also. Real Madrid welcomes Osasuna at the AlfredoDiStefano tonight in what proves to be a must-win match for the Madrid giants. Madrid now can’t afford to drop points at this crucial juncture of the season where every game is a final. Only 3points now separate league toppers Atletico and 4th placed Sevilla with Madrid and Barca both locked at 71 points. A win for Real would mean that they will stay totally in the title contention behind Atletico. On Wednesday, Barca’s loss to Granada opened the door for them to fight again for the coveted trophy. They can’t think of anything other than winning against a side that is 11th on the standings.
On the other hand, Osasuna will be looking to prove themselves as a party spoiler against the home side. They will be looking to lift their present awful form in the league by causing an upset against Madrid. Madrid doesn’t have the luxury to take them lightly and they know Osasuna can be tough opposition on their day.
Why should you watch for
There is absolutely no reason in the world that could prove bigger than watching this all-important clash in LaLiga Santander. After that frustrating draw against Betis, the Madrid side had almost lost their hopes for a consecutive La Liga title. But losses to Atletico and Barca have again revamped their quest for the elusive trophy. They have almost destiny in their own hands now and winning the last 7 games can hand them the trophy, provided Atletico loses or draw at least one.
In the build-up to that aim, winning this Osasuna clash would mark the beginning of new things. Also, on any given day, Osasuna has the potential to pose a strong challenge to any big side. They are a team full of attacking talents and they are quite good in the final third. It’s certainly going to be a wonderful match to watch. The scheduled kick-off time is at 00:30 IST or 19:00 GMT.
The Los Blancos are coming onto this fixture after producing an average performance against Chelsea in the Champions League semifinals. A stunning equalizer from Benzema ensured that Madrid doesn’t lose at their home ground. Christian Pulisic gave the visiting side the lead inside the first 15 minutes. The first quarter of the game was well and wholly dominated by the London-based side. They created a number of chances which proved dangerous to them. But Real slowly started to set their footing on the match after the half-hour mark and they began to control proceedings thereafter.
Chelsea though played quite dominantly in this away fixture which saw them getting a crucial away goal. They took 5 shots on target compared to Madrid’s only one. Zidane would hope that his side quickly recovers from that below-par performance and return back to winning ways. They have played out 3 draws in their last 4 matches including two 0-0 draws to Getafe and Betis. To have their season back on track, they need to pull out consecutive wins from now on starting against Osasuna.
FORM GUIDE- DDWDD (ALL COMPETITIONS) / WWDWD(LA LIGA)
The Los Rojillos are playing this match after suffering a narrow defeat at the hands of Celta Vigo last weekend. Goals from Iago Aspas and Jeison Murillo sealed the deal for the home side. Santi Mina and Denis Suarez were the assist providers for them. A late consolation penalty goal from Roberto Torres late just reduced the margin. Osasuna was the dominant side in the match and maintained 51% possession of the ball. They also took 12 shots at the goal but were unable to find the equalizer. Jagoba Arrasate would hope his men to come out with a top-notch performance to upset a big side like Madrid. He definitely wants to make his team finish within the top10 and needs to keep on winning from now.
The club from Pamplona has lost its last two matches, forcing Arrasate to make changes in his squad. But his side had won 3 of their last 5 matches and lost only one besides drawing one. Osasuna has good players with attacking intent on their side and with that, they can produce shakiness in opposition defense. It would be no wonder if the away side comes up with a good performance at the Di Stefano.
FORM GUIDE- DWWLL (LA LIGA)
RealMadrid has always been on the receiving side of it with injuries to key players when it comes to injuries. They have suffered a total of 51 injuries and 7 covid cases in this season. Again before facing Osasuna, they are plagued by injuries. Sergio Ramos had returned to training this week and it seemed he would make his way into the squad. But Zidane again took no risks and left out the star defender from the squad, probably preserving him for Chelsea.
Lucas Vazquez is on a long-term layoff with a cruciate ligament injury. Ferland Mendy will again miss this fixture on account of his soleus injury. Federico Valverde is yet to test negative and has been on quarantine since last week. The hosts suffered another blow when Dani Carvajal was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury. He had only played the Chelsea game after coming back from a long injury layoff. Other than these, there are no known injuries on the team.
The absence of Carvajal would tempt Zidane to play the shaky Odriozola in the Right back position. Marcelo would continue in the full-back position on the left flank. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will certainly be given rest to keep them fresh ahead of the 2nd leg clash. Isco would start in central midfield along with Casemiro. Rodrygo is in line for a start in place of Asensio and Hazard can also later come in the match.
The traveling side will not have many injuries to deal with when they face the Madrid-based side. Reserve Goalie Ruben Martinez and center-back Inigo Perez will be the only ones missing this clash. Apart from these two injuries, Arrasate has a full and fit squad to face Madrid.
Arrasate would be forced to make changes in the squad after the loss to Celta Vigo. Roberto Torres is certain to return to the starting XI for this clash. There is a possible tossup between Kike Barja, Budimir, Calleri, Ruben Garcia, and Adrian Lopez for a place in the forward line. It is very hard to predict the starting lineup following Arrasate’s temptation to change the starting XI frequently.
Head to Head
Real Madrid and Osasuna have faced each other 35 times to date. The former has won 23 times, while the latter won only a mere 5 times. The other 7 matches have ended all square. However, the most recent meeting between them in January had ended in a goalless stalemate.
Players to watch out for
The Frenchman has been on another level for Madrid in this year’s competition. He has turned goalscoring into a regular affair for him. He is a vital cog in the Madrid lineup and Zidane always depends on him for providing goals upfront. Benzema already has scored 28 goals and 7 assists this season. Fresh from scoring an acrobatic goal against Chelsea, he would hope to polish his scoring boots once again against Osasuna.
The German is the undisputed star of Madrid’s midfield and the creator behind half of their goals this season. He is known as the pass master for his excellent passing skills. Be it in defense or in attack, Kroos is a pivotal player in both. He also has recorded 3 goals and 10 assists to his name. If he is in the starting XI to face Osasuna, he would look to make his presence felt in the team.
Unquestionably, the Spaniard is the driving force of the whole Osasuna team. He can provide stability in both midfield and attack. His creativity is an invaluable gem to his side. If Osasuna is to cause any upset, Torres has to be on the top of his game and help his side. Arrasate would definitely hope for Torres in contributing goals in the final third.
The young forward has proven himself to be an indispensable part of Osasuna’s attacking lineup. He has notched up 5 goals and 3 assists already this season. Whenever he has played, he has provided aggressive intent in the forward line. He will be keen to make his mark in this high voltage match against a depleted Madrid defense.
This fixture is going to be quite enticing and engrossing in all respects. Every match is a must-win game for Real from now on in order to bag the title. They can’t avail of the cushion to drop any points further. Zidane would hope that his side quickly brushes aside the negatives from the Chelsea clash and again start on a positive note. Osasuna will also aim to win this fixture and boost their chances of a top 10 finish. They would take heart from the fact that they have beaten Barcelona earlier this season. Expect a fierce encounter to occur between the two teams on the pitch.
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