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Almería Vs Real Madrid, Liga BBVA 2013-2014: Match Preview

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Ancelotti and his men will try to get the first win after Sami Khedira's season-ending injury.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Real Madrid's injury list is quite large. Sami Khedira misses his first match since his torn ACL against Italy, while Ángel Di María, Raphäel Varane, Marcelo and Coentrao are out of the team's list as well. Therefore, Carlo Ancelotti will have to make some important decisions regarding the midfield and defensive line.

As the Italian coach confirmed during the pre-match press conference, Casemiro could fill on Sami Khedira's shoes if the team keep playing with that 4-3-3 formation implemented after the 0-1 loss against Atlético Madrid. But still, Ancelotti acknowledged that Asier Illarramendi and Xabi Alonso could play together in the midfield with Isco or Modric in fron of them in what would be a 4-2-3-1 formation (although the attacking midfielder wouldn't be as offensive-minded as the club was used to with Mourinho).

Upfront, Ancelotti will surely start the so-called 'BBC trio', especially with Ángel Di María out. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema seem to mix really well, and the fans' hopes rely on their shoulders. It will not be easy to prevent all three from scoring, but Almería's 5-4-1 formation will certainly try to do that.

Almería's first win came in their 11th match when they visited Valencia. Before that, they had collected three draws and seven losses. And since they won in Valencia 1-2, Almería also managed to beat Valladolid and Osasuna, even getting out of the relegation zone. The Andalusian team doesn't have any injured players, so coach Francisco Rodríguez will be able to start his best available lineup. That will likely include Suso, the attacking midfielder on loan from Liverpool.

Suso even had the chance to start a couple of games for Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool last season, but he soon lost his spot and looked for a way out of Anfield in order to improve as a player. Suso should be an important player for Liverpool in the future, so he arguably is Almería's best player already. If Real's midfielders work hard enough, Suso should not get many touches, though.

Raphäel Varane will have to miss yet another game with small problems on his knee. It seems that his surgery didn't go as well as it should've gone, and it's certainly worrying to see the young defender missing those many games. Still, Sergio Ramos and Pepe are in shape and will be the team's center backs against Almería, with Carvajal playing in the right back position and Arbeloa replacing Coentrao and Marcelo. Arbeloa was brilliant there against Real Sociedad, so he and Ancelotti are certainly looking forward to confirm that performance.

One way or another, and even with Real Madrid's injury list, this should be a manageable match for Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates. If the soon-to-be Ballon D'Or, Benzema and Bale perform well enough, Almería will not be a problem.

And careful, because Valdés and Messi will be out for a while and Barcelona could drop some points in the meantime...

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