Real Madrid won the away game 1-4, earning a comfortable lead for the Bernabéu. However, you can never be too confident against these smaller teams, since they’ll profit from your relaxation. Carlo Ancelotti will use a lineup filled with subs and a few more regular players. An average to good match should suffice and seal the qualification to the next round.
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
The system has gained prominence again, since three men are needed to hold the midfield. Modrić and Kroos were able to do this just fine, but without the Croatian, the work needed to be rearranged. With this being a minor game, we’ll see a completely new midfield, giving Ancelotti a chance to test other alternatives. Having three midfielders will also allow the men in attack to focus more on scoring.
GK: Keylor Navas
His presence in the lineup against Basel came as a big surprise. He did a wonderful job, with one memorable save in what would’ve been the equalizer. He’ll have another chance to show his worth.
RB: Álvaro Arbeloa
Very poor match in Switzerland, gaining criticism from fans and harming the team. It’s still unclear why he’s going through this poor form, yet it seems he will have a shot at redeeming himself.
CB: Raphaël Varane
He scored two goals in the away game and was the leader of the team. He’s shown he can be the starting center back. Pepe will start declining sooner or later, and Varane can only get better from now on.
CB: Nacho Fernández
Nervous the last time he faced Cornellà, he can also regain confidence by doing a good job. We’ve seen his best version in the right back position, still it’s very likely he will play in the center with Varane.
LB: Fábio Coentrão
His recovery is great for Ancelotti’s rotation system. If he’s able to stay away from another injury, he will deliver his usual good performances. Last season he was very important in the big games and earning that rhythm is necessary now.
RCM: Alvaro Medrán
The big surprise in the lineup, the coach confirmed he will play from the start. The La Fábrica star is very similar to Modrić, with a box-to-box mentality. He has the potential to succeed and this will be a great opportunity.
CM: Asier Illarramendi
Still being criticized for his night in Dortmund, he hasn’t earned anyone’s trust back. Expected to be the future Xabi Alonso, he has the quality to turn into a useful player. He needs a stellar match badly.
LCM: Sami Khedira
Everyone thought of Sami when Luka got gravely injured. Nevertheless, Isco wound up being the chosen one, not disappointing in the process. Almost certainly leaving Madrid very soon, he’ll have to follow the coach’s orders until then.
RW: Gareth Bale
Scored a wonderful goal on Saturday, briefly shutting up his detractors. He hasn’t been the same we saw last year. With two parts of the BBC getting a deserved break, he will have to be the leader of the team.
ST: Javier “Chicharito” Hernández
There’s been rumors that Real won’t choose to buy him after his loan expires, and Manchester United won’t renew his contract. In addition, he’s inexplicably been given very few minutes. This will be an important one for him.
He got a red card against his former team, yet he will fulfill his suspension in La Liga versus Celta. Carlo stated his only doubt was between Isco and James. The Colombian deserves a rest as he’s shown signs of fatigue.