Real Madrid v Osasuna, La Liga, May 2, 2010
â€œWe have a strong chance of winning the league. The dressing room believes we can do it. One point isnâ€™t much of a difference and we are confident we can overhaul Barca if we win all our remaining games.â€ â€“ Kaka.
Whatever happens to Barcelona at Villarreal on Saturday night, it would take a brave punter to bet against Real Madrid claiming all three points at home to Osasuna. The Catalan giants who lead the La Liga table have a harder run-in and this looks like a pivotal weekend at the top of the Spanish table following Interâ€™s heroics at the Nou Camp as a win for Manual Pellegriniâ€™s side looks a formality.
Quite simply, Osasuna are not a great team. Currently in 12th in the Spanish Primera Division, they are not yet mathematically safe from relegation and in recent weeks have looked like a fragile side.
A run of one win in five leaves them looking over their shoulders going into the final four games of the campaign and their record of 11 defeats away from home this season is the second worst in the league. (Draw/Real Madrid is 4.01.)
Their success this season has almost solely been down to a tight defence which is the best in the Spanish top flight outside the top four. Left back Nacho Monreal looks like a real prospect and he appeared for Spain in their World Cup qualifying campaign. On the other side Cesar Azpilicueta, at just 20, has emerged as one of the most promising players in the league and Real may not have so much joy down the wings.
Osasunaâ€™s main problem is scoring goals having claimed just 30 in 34 matches which is the worst record in the division. Casillas, Ramos, Albiol and co. could have a very quiet match but will have to keep an eye on tricky right winger Juanfran and veteran striker Walter Pandiani who claimed a brace against Malaga a couple of weeks ago.
Combined with the fact that Osasuna have a poor away record and struggle to score goals, Real Madrid have only been beaten once at home this season and have again looked relentless since the defeat to Barcelona in the Classico. (2.34 to be under 3 goals.)
Guti is a serious doubt for the game and both Raul and Rafael van der Vaart sustained season ending injuries against Real Zaragoza last week. Kaka will now start after his first appearance for six weeks in the 2-1 away win and his winning goal should take the pressure off the Brazilian.
The force now seems to be with Real Madrid, Pellegriniâ€™s side look confident and assured whilst the fact that Barcelona wonâ€™t play in the Champions League final should be a big fillip to the home fans.
These two sides may have drawn 0-0 in January but the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain should be licking their lips at the thought of another comfortable victory at the Bernabeu.
101gg predicts: Real Madrid 4 â€“ Osasuna 0 (7.30)