Tragedy hit Real Madrid again, as their weekend win in La Liga cost them Modrić for six weeks and Bale for three. In what will certainly be the season’s most important game, Los Blancos need to channel their winning spirit and fight with what they have. The lineup will be doubtful until the very last minute, but Atlético will certainly have many advantages on Wednesday, apart from the 0-0 from the first leg.
Preferred Formation: 4-4-2
This match is absolutely critical for Carlo Ancelotti, as failure can easily set him up to a goodbye at the end of the season. This is when he must show he deserves to manage the club, as his repetitive speech assuring the players don’t need to rotate has been shattered to pieces. Now the Italian must line up players that might not have the rhythm to deliver well.
GK: Iker Casillas
The captain also has a lot of pressure on this one. Keylor Navas lost his competition in January and was forgotten for months. He must do everything to stay in it if he wants to better his relationship with fans.
RB: Dani Carvajal
Without Marcelo, Dani’s the only offensive option from the full backs. He’ll give the balance of attack and defense, going forward when needed and being the third defender when his other teammate moves forward.
CB: Raphaêl Varane
Clearly the best in the first leg, it would be extremely unfair to leave his speed and anticipation out of this game. He handled the defense well and Pepe’s weekend showing on Wednesday would end up with Real out of the UCL.
CB: Sergio Ramos
He did save the club in May and led the way to La Décima. That strength and will are needed to win this match, yet he should never lose his position if his decision will leave the defense vulnerable. A conceded goal is the one thing they don’t need.
LB: Fábio Coentrão
Here’s the first of many problems with the lineup. The usual choice is Coentrão and we’ll trust that he’ll be fully recovered by then. Nevertheless, don’t count Arbeloa or Nacho out as alternatives.
RM: James Rodríguez
Sans Modrić, he’s the big hope for fans, as his performances have been wonderful since his return. His constant pursuit of a teammate to give the ball with will make the match fluid and direct.
RCM: Asier Illarramendi
Problem number two for the coach. If he decides to shift to the 4-4-2, Kroos will need a partner in the center, as Isco and James will undoubtedly be the offensive ones. Silva and Khedira are the other choices, still Illarra seems to be the chosen one.
LCM: Toni Kroos
If there was ever a time Real needed Kroos to give more than he can, this is it. The rest of the season is at play and failure will come if they don’t control the midfield. Mistakes and distractions will cost a lot.
As James has risen to a leading role, he has declined to a secondary role. That Isco we saw in earlier months is the one that must show up on Wednesday. Short and effective possession are the way to go, losing balls while attempting dribbles is not.
RF: Javier “Chicharito” Hernández
The final problem for Carletto. At the time of writing Bale’s out and Benzema doesn’t look fit enough for a match of this caliber. The Mexican’s “never give up” attitude can be a huge asset. Jesé is the other option.
LF: Cristiano Ronaldo
It all comes down to how this man performs. It’s been a while since we’ve seen him play a stellar match against the city rivals. There’s no room more room for failure if he wants to stay alive in his favorite competition.