What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Deportivo La Coruna (13th; 26 points) vs Real Madrid (2nd; 60 points)
When: Saturday 26th February, 2011, at 21:00 UK time
Where: Riazor, La Coruna, Spain

Hoping for another Jinx

It was only last year that Real Madrid managed to get past Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor, ending Deportivo’s 19-year unbeaten run against Los Blancos on their home turf. With Real coming back from France after another duel with bogey team Lyon in the Champions League, Deportivo La Coruna will be hoping to upset their guests for the second time in a week.

The Galician team remain nonetheless a very different prospect than that which greeted fans’ eyes at the turn of the new millennium. Sitting far from the good seats, in thirteenth position, the team has a near-impossible job to do in order to progress up the standings. Having scored a stunning last-minute equaliser against Almeria, Daniel Aranzubia stressed the importance of collecting points at this crucial stage of the season: “I have gone forward before in games, but never scored a goal. [Coach Miguel Angel] Lotina was happy for me, and I managed to win a point for the team.”

Back to Domestic Business

The pressure was on Real Madrid to finally overcome Lyon in the Champions League, and having Jose Mourinho in charge the general feeling was that a good result was possible at the Stade Gerland. However, Los Blancos only managed a draw in what was a game of two halves.

As Real failed to show up mentally during the first half of their meeting with Lyon, many feared a massacre of the nine-team tournament winners. However, Mourinho’s team was completely different at the start of the second 45 minutes, taking the lead after Karim Benzema converted a chance mere seconds after coming off the bench. With Los Merengues seemingly on their way to victory, the equaliser came in the last minutes of the match, sparkling a fiery encounter in the return leg at the Bernabeu. With a somewhat disappointing result, the league runners-up must swiftly turn their focus to domestic matters should they hope to catch Barcelona in the title race.



Recent form

Deportivo La Coruna:
Getafe 4-1 Deportivo (05/02; La Liga)
Deportivo 1-0 Villarreal (13/02; La Liga)
Almeria 1-1 Deportivo (20/02; La Liga)

Real Madrid:
Espanyol 0-1 Real Madrid
(13/02; La Liga)
Real Madrid 2-0 Levante
(19/02; La Liga)
Lyon 1-1 Real Madrid
(22/02; Champions League)

Key absences

Deportivo La Coruna: Xisco

Real Madrid: Gonzalo Higuain; Sami Khedira

Players to watch

Deportivo La Coruna – Jose Andres Guardado: The Mexican will finally make his return from injury, and the timing couldn’t be any more perfect. One of his team’s most influential players, Guardado is a nuisance on the left flank, and could very well give Sergio Ramos a hard time on this occasion.

Real Madrid – Mesut Ozil: Ozil has simply been providing a masterclass in recent weeks, dictating motion of play in the most sublime of matters. After having settled in nicely at the Bernabeu, the Germany international will want to spread his magic all over the pitch as his team prepares for yet another important challenge.

Match Prediction

Had Real Madrid not have broken the Riazor curse last season, then this match would surely swing in favour of the hosts. Deportivo La Coruna have suffered great difficulties in recent weeks, and with the team just three points above the relegation zone, it is hard for them to trouble Los Blancos. Expect Madrid to come home with a 2-0 result.

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