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Real Madrid V.S. Getafe Preview: Kaká And Madrid's Midfield Conundrum

Expect the Bernabéu to be decked out like this tomorrow!
Expect the Bernabéu to be decked out like this tomorrow!

Real Madrid will take on Madrid-based Getafe CF on Saturday (20:00 CET, 2:00 PM EST, Canal+ in Spain, GolTV in the USA) at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, in the first of six inter-Madrid derbies. Saturday's match will also mark the first official match at the Bernabéu this season, and Real Madrid boss José Mourinho will be looking to impress his home crowd.

Real Madrid are coming in to this matchup on a tear: they scored six goals last week in a drubbing of relegation-level Zaragoza, three of them coming from the boots of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Getafe, on the other hand, will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing 1-1 draw against Levante at home in the first week of the 2011-12 la Liga season.

Unfortunately for Geta, the Bernabéu isn't the greatest place to try to turn their season around: they haven't collected any points against Madrid since they beat the merengues in November of 2008. Another thing working against Getafe? Since joining Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo has averaged more than two goals a game against Getafe.

At the same time, Mourinho might have some trouble constructing his lineup this week, particularly because of the resurgent play of one Kaká, who provided a critical spark for Madrid in their last match against Zaragoza. It's very possible that Mourinho might choose to sit either Mesut Özil or Ángel di María on Saturday in favor of the Brazilian playmaker, especially because Real Madrid make their UEFA Champion's League debut on Tuesday in Zagreb.

This midfield conundrum, as I called it in my title, could be an ongoing storyline for Madrid as the year wears on, especially if Kaká continues to play like he did against Zaragoza: he showed that he still brings a scoring touch to the pitch, and that's exactly what Madrid needed in that match.

At the same time, though, we still need to see more continued good form from Kaká to believe him worthy of unseating Di Maria or Özil in the starting lineup (Di María is the most likely candidate to come off, though I wouldn't be shocked if Mourinho chose to bench Karim Benzema. and go with a 4-3-3 with Cristiano Ronaldo as the center forward). Kaká has shown bursts of quality over the past year, but has yet to sustain the same form with Madrid that made him the best player in the world at AC Milan.

Ultimately, though, Madrid can rest easy knowing that Getafe isn't a particularly powerful side: they're a few years removed from that magical run to the European spots, and they've let many of their best players walk. While I'm not as confident in a shellacking as I was last week in Zaragoza, I'm quite sure Madrid wil come away with a win at home against a much weaker side.

Player to Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo. He averages two goals per game against Getafe. Need I say more?

Another player to watch: Pablo Sarabia. The ex-Real Madrid canterano will make his first start against his old club. If players like Juan Mata or Roberto Soldado are any indication, he'll probably be gunning for us. (But never fear, Real Madrid have a buy-back option after the second year of his contract!)

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