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Tough test in Pamplona for Real Madrid, but high prices may lower the pressure

English.news.cn   2013-12-13 19:18:27            

MADRID, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Cristiano Ronaldo will return to BBVA Primera Liga action on Saturday when his side travels to one of the most hostile atmospheres they will have to face this season.

Although Barcelona's Camp Nou can be relied on to give Real Madrid a less than friendly welcome, the fact is that Osasuna's El Sadar Stadium is where the club from the capital can expect their hottest reception.

Although the ground in Pamplona has less than a fifth of the capacity of the Camp Nou, the fact the stands in El Sadar are placed almost directly on top of the pitch takes the atmosphere that bit closer to the players.

It will be a big test for Real Madrid and although they have tended to get good results against Osasuna in recent weeks, nobody will be forgetting that Javi Gracia's side were able to hold Barcelona to a 0-0 draw earlier this season.

"Real Madrid always suffer in Pamplona," Osasuna goalkeeper Andres Fernandez has already advised the Real Madrid players and with the home side able to once against count on players such as Lolo and Marc Beltran, Gracia will have a virtually full squad to choose from with the exception of suspended veteran midfielder, Patxi Punal.

One thing the Osasuna squad are not happy about is the high price of tickets which have been put on sale to non-season ticket holders. With prices ranging from 115-135 euros, they are out of reach for many supporters, especially those who tend to make the most noise in matches such as this.

Ronaldo returned to scoring form as Real Madrid won 2-0 in Copenhagen on Tuesday night and although he said he was still not fully fit, he will take his place in attack alongside Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, with Angel Di Maria, whose relationship with the club appears to be deteriorating rapidly, to the point where he could be sold in January, on the subs bench.

Luka Modric has a slight physical problem and will be replaced in the side by Asier Illaramendi with Xabi Alonso and possibly Isco occupying the other two midfield roles.

Rafael Varene's ongoing knee problems look as if they are going to keep him sidelined until the end of the year, while Fabio Coentrao is still not 100 percent fit, meaning Marcelo will play at left back, while Madrid coach, Carlo Ancelotti is likely to put his faith in the experienced Alvaro Arbeloa for the game rather than youngster Dani Carvajal.

Ronaldo has been on the front pages of the pro-Madrid sports papers virtually every day for the past week as they try to ensure he wins the prestigious Balon D'Or award, while it was announced on Thursday that he was named the best player of 2013 by the magazine World Soccer.

As usual he will be the center of attention in Pamplona in a game Madrid know that three points will see them pressure Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, whose games kick off later in the weekend.

Editor: Zhu Ningzhu
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