Champions League, Group H, Matchday 6
Real Madrid (2nd, 9pts) vs Zenit St. Petersburg (3rd, 5pts)
Wednesday, 10 December 2008, Kick-off: 20:45 CET
Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Schuster has been sacked. Juande Ramos will take charge from now on and his first game will be at home against a lowly Zenit.
Qualifying as group leaders would give Real Madrid the home advantage in the return game of the Last 16, but it wouldn’t necessarily make things easier; important sides such as Inter Milan and Chelsea have gone through to the next round as runners-up in their respective groups.
Zenit are already out of the Champions League and Real Madrid also have nothing to play for in this match as Juventus is very unlikely to loose their match (which, if Real Madrid win, would put Juventus in the 2nd position in the group and Real Madrid will qualify as group leaders).
The advantage of that would be that we would not face the big teams in the next round. Round, not rounds. Also, there are many other complications to this matter so lets just skip them all.
Very fortunate for Juande Ramos that his first match in charge does hold much of a significance, so he can use this liberty and chop n change while he can because next week we will face Barcelona.
Which will be Ramos’s first real challenge and a match that could have long term consequences given the delicacy of the situation Real Madrid are currently in.
I think Juande Ramos is going to rest most of the first team players, so that they can face Barcelona at full fitness.
Having said that, I think it is going to be difficult for him to field a second string as we have so many players out injured that there are hardly any fit players that can replace our first team players.
So the question arises that whether Real Madrid players should conserve their energy for the Barcelona match or not?
I think they should, as we should go to the Camp Nou ( Bareclona’s home) with the whole squad well rested.
Last nightIwas watching Barcelona’s match against Shakhtar Donetsk at Camp Nou, which Barcelona lost 2-3 in an embarassing defeat. The point to be noted is that Barcelona fielded their absolute second string. Here is the Barcelona’s line up which they put out in last night’s Champions League clash:
Only 4 first team members from 11. So that should tell you that Barcelona is not taking this Clasico lightly just because Real Madrid are in a crisis.
I think Real Madrid should also do the same by playing their youth system squad but having said that, I don’t think, the home crowd is going to tolerate that given that Real Madrid lost to Sevilla 3-4 just few days ago.
Add to that, does it even matter if Real Madrid finish the top of the group? Remember last year. We finished top of the group and faced Roma in the last 16. Roma is not really what you call, EUROPEAN POWERHOUSE, still RealMadridlost,bothawayandathome.