Real Madrid is visiting El Molinón this evening with the goal of maintaining the lead ahead of FC Barcelona in what will be their last Liga game before El Clásico.
Xabi Alonso will not be able to play, after the fifth yellow card he saw in the Derbi against Atlético Madrid. That will mean Mourinho replace Alonso with Nuri Sahin. Whether the Turkish player will do it with Khedira or with both the German and Coentrao remains to be seen.El Molinón has always been a difficult stadium for us. Last year, Mourinho's team could get a 0-1 win after Higuaín's goal in the second half. With Pellegrini as coach, Madrid got a draw and the referee disallowed a goal that would have put Madrid in the lead because of a doubtful hand ball.
This year, FC Barcelona fought to get a good result in El Molinón, but they finally prevailed with a 0-1 win. Tonight's game will surely be a hard fight one, with both teams going very hard to the ball and the crowd pressing designate referee Iturralde González.
Mourinho has yet to decide whether he will play a 4-3-3 with Khedira, Sahin and Coentrao in the middle--Lass will start as a Right Back again because of Arbeloa's absence- or a classical 4-2-3-1 with Sahin and Khedira. Sahin might not be ready to play 90 minutes at the physical rhythm that Madrid is used to see when Alonso plays. The 4-3-3 would give Sahin more confidence to create some good plays without worrying as much about the defensive transition.
Kaká is finally back in the list, and Mourinho has confirmed that he wants the Brazilian ready to play as long as he can against Ajax next Wednesday. He will start from the bench today, but look for him if the game is in danger or finished. If the game is close and Sporting is getting their chances, Mourinho might want to reserve him for an easier game.
Although Cristiano Ronaldo suffered an ankle sprain in the Derbi, he will look to score his first goal ever against Sporting Gijón. With Kaká's absence, Özil will more than likely start as well.
Two doubts remain for the lineup. One is the striker and the other is the right winger. Di María might be too hot-blooded for these tough games and Mourinho might think it too dangerous to start the Argentinian before El Clásico. If he sees a red card, he will miss his defensive presence in the game.
Nobody knows what Mourinho is thinking, regarding the striker position for El Clásico, but Benzema looks to have a little advantage over Higuaín. That would mean that the Frenchman will start today and Higuaín will start against Ajax on Wednesday, but he might want the Argentinian to play in El Clásico because of his counter attack approach to the game and the pressure he applies to the defensive linemen.
Either way, Real Madrid should look to score in the first 30 minutes to ensure what could turn into a complicated game if Sporting gets to the second half with a chance to win.