With two more injured men, Real Madrid hope to keep winning by large goal differences and keep more clean sheets. Granada will visit the Santiago Bernabéu with the mentality of making it an unpleasant afternoon. The table is now showing fierce rivals FC Barcelona as the top team, with Real two points behind. There is no room for error, as mistakes add up at the end of the season.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
Rafa Benítez has shown that he’s the type of man to keep his cards close to his chest. Because of this, he rarely gives any clues as to what he’s got planned for the upcoming match. He didn’t seem to rule out anyone from becoming Bale’s replacement. The diversity of the alternatives may force a change in the system, yet we won’t know that until the lineup is revealed before kickoff.
GK: Keylor Navas
The Costa Rican is having a great start of the season and he’s already made history. He’s only 90 minutes away from matching Casillas’ record of 450 minutes without conceding goals. There’s no sign that he’ll be subbed.
RB: Dani Carvajal
As Danilo continues his recovery, Dani will remain as the owner of the right wing. He’s done well so far, smoothly adapting himself to whoever ends up being his partner and blocking rival advances.
The captain’s absence will open up a spot that the Portuguese is very likely to take. He hasn’t been as important so far, yet this is his chance to show that his experience is useful for the team.
CB: Raphaël Varane
He suffered some physical problems on Tuesday’s Champions League match, but he has trained normally since then. There’s a slight chance Rafa might want to be safe and send in Nacho instead.
The Brazilian has played all of the possible minutes. This is great since his form is currently good. However, the manager will soon need to find someone to help keep Marcelo healthy and fresh.
It’s Modrić’s turn to rest and Casemiro has served as the man to come in for either him or Toni. His more defensive mentality puts him in the midfield instead of a bit forward as Kovačić probably will.
LCM: Toni Kroos
He completely rested last week in La Liga and it could be his turn to step up to the plate. His partner Modrić did this against Espanyol and was taken out shortly after the hour mark. It seems this Kroos will follow this on Saturday.
Much like Danilo and Carvajal’s situation, the Spanish will profit once again from James’ injury. The possible change in the system for this game might move him to his natural role as a CAM.
CAM: Mateo Kovačić
The newest signing has featured on every single match this season as a sub, being one of the coaches preferred resources. The Croatian already came in for Bale on Tuesday and his versatility is setting him up for a repeat.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
Eight goals in four days for him after his UCL hat trick. He’s back and hungry for more records. The last time he met Granada he also scored five goals, making it one of his favorite victims.
ST: Karim Benzema
The BBC won’t be complete for this one, still this shouldn’t be a problem. Karim combines well with everyone and that’s a plus for anyone replacing Bale. He may have to be more offensive if the system changes to a 4-4-2.