Friday, January 7, 2011

Chelsea can't lose this one & La Liga Preview

Sure, Chelsea are in a rotten form and if they don't win against Ipswich this week-end, Ancelotti is most certainly gone as manager. But getting beaten by Ipswich at home in the FA Cup? No way, I would say. Ipswich just sacked their coach Roy Keane, and players always find extra motivation when playing for new or interim management for the first time. But Ipswich will be missing first-team players and the gulf in class will be all too evident. Chelsea is a wounded animal right now, and this game against Championship opposition comes at a good time for them to prove they can start being winners again. They are no longer the dominating side they were, and certainly no longer the best side in England (as ridiculously stipulated by Terry last week), but they are still a quality side that will want to defend their FA Cup trophy. They can't lose on Sunday.

In La Liga, Barcelona and Real Madrid are facing tough games. Barcelona visit Deportivo La Coruna in what I think will be a very tight encounter. I was not overly impressed with Barca in their Cup visit to Athletic Bilbao, but it was not their best team playing and it was only Messi's first game after the break. I can see Deportivo giving them all they can handle, but Barcelona will probably draw or win this. I will gather more from this game about the form of Barcelona, whatever the result; therefore, I will abstain from giving a recommendation on this one.

Real Madrid are at home to Villareal in what will be another difficult match for Ronaldo and co. The problem with Madrid is their lack of a proven striker due to the injury to Higuain. Benzema is talented and has flashes of brilliance but he's not at the stage where he can produce goals week in week out. So goals have to come from Ronaldo and their other offensive players like Ozil, Di Maria and soon Kaka. Villlareal are no slouch team and will be a threat. But it is a fact in football that Mourinho knows how not to lose at home and I can see this ending in a Madrid win or a drawn match. So Madrid as a draw-no-bet is the recommendation.

Draw-no-bet: Chelsea, Real Madrid

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