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Jonathan Cordingley 19th Dec 2009 - 19:23

Real Madrid can steal the headlines on Saturday night

Spanish action for you live on Sky Sports tonight with Real Madrid in action in what should be a cracking Saturday night game.

Real Madrid vs Real Zaragoza - 21:00 live on Sky Sports Xtra

Real (1/5) used a 4-3-1-2 formation against Valencia and it worked well. I expected Los Che to get at least a point, but Real's team work and the sharpshooting of Gonzalo Higuain gave Los Blancos all three points in an engaging match.

Key to the defensive aspect of team work was centre back Pepe, who will now face several months on the sideline after his unfortunate injury. Potential replacement Ezequiel Garay, while a solid young defender and ariel threat, has little pace in comparison and because of this, could leave Madrid's defensive exposed when they push up the field.

To compound Real's problems with their back four, right back and Spanish International Sergio Ramos has told coach Manuel Pellegrini that he would prefer to play at centre back and that now is the perfect opportunity to do just that.

With Marcelo excelling on the left side of of the midfield trio that protects the defence, Arbeloa as the starting left back, Garay without the necessary pace for the role and Albiol a fixture at centre back, if Manuel were to do as Sergio asked, who would he play at right back?

For this game, I think Ramos stays put, but it will be interesting to see how the new tactics and team play fare against this week's opponents Real Zaragoza.

Zaragoza (11/1) have been a reasonably successful club in recent times, with a Cup Winners Cup win in 1994-95 (Nayim from the halfway line!) and a Copa Del Rey win over the "Galactico's" of Real Madrid in 2003-04.

They also flirted with Champions league Qualification a few years ago, but despite boasting attacking talent such as Diego Milito and Pablo Aimar, they became one of those clubs labelled "too good to go down" and after sliding from 4th place at Christmas to 18th by the end of the 2007-08 season, the unthinkable happened.

In the same season, highly rated young coach Marcelino had just led Racing Santander to 6th place in La Liga and their first ever Uefa Cup campaign. Surprisingly, he then dropped down a division to take charge of Zaragoza and despite selling most of their best players, he led them back to La Liga at the first attempt.

However, since their return, Zaragoza have resembled an example of how not to run a club, with the board constantly arguing with their coach and refusing to sanction, or even listen to the transfer requests of Marcelino.The fans understood the situation, gave Marcelino their backing and demanded the removal of the board.

The board were never going to leave and the cold reality of the situation is that they did not want to pay Marcelino's relatively high wages now he had gained them promotion to La Liga.

They had therefore been looking for a way to sack him since the the season began and given the infighting off the pitch, results suffered on it and the Zaragoza board finally found the excuse they wanted when the team lost at home to Athletic Bilbao last weekend.

Former Zaragoza hero Gus Poyet is reportedly being lined up to replace Marcelino and is expected to be offered about a fifth of what Marcelino earned. After his exploits as a player at the club, the Zaragoza faithful are sure to give him a fair crack of the whip, but with the board's reluctance to spend money, what hope does he really have?

You have to be careful backing against a team who have just sacked their manager, but on paper Real should have no trouble beating Zaragoza and Higuain is in great form with 6 goals in his last 7 games.


Higuain to score anytime - 10/11


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