The worst Real Madrid of the season finally broke their bad streak and beat Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. With that small boost, they hope to replicate things in La Liga as they face Eibar. The Basque team is sitting on the sixth position, just three behind their rival. If Real want to keep up with Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, they can only afford to win on Sunday.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
Rafa Benítez continues to be criticized after the inexplicable night in Ukraine. The squad was able to turn a pleasant 4-0 result into a dramatic 4-3. The concentration and marking went downhill and it could have caused a real tragedy. Now without Varane and still without Ramos and Marcelo, the coach must reinvent the defense and boost his men’s motivation to get past these rough weeks.
GK: Keylor Navas
After Kiko Casilla surprisingly featured on Wednesday, the Costa Rican is expected to return for this one. This will be his first game after El Clásico and he needs to prove that was just a bad day.
RB: Dani Carvajal
Before Shakhtar got inspired, he was performing better than Danilo did in recent times. The defense is being attacked heavily by injuries, so the manager needs to pray for the health of the active members.
The Portuguese will have to be the leader of the defense in the upcoming weeks. He will have to be the one to keep that zone compact and working well. He hasn’t had too many chances this year, so this is a golden one.
He will go from being Marcelo’s replacement to Varane’s replacement. He needs to deliver while the Frenchman is gone, as the team needs to be solid in the back. This is a great shot for him to seize.
Nacho’s move to the center and the lack of true left backs will keep Danilo here. This isn’t an ideal fix, yet apparently this is what Rafa has decided to do. There’s a small chance Cheryshev could be tested for this role.
RCM: Luka Modrić
He scored his first goal inside the box for Real since joining in 2012. With two added midfielders, he became the anchor of the team. There’s a chance that this trio starts to gain prominence in big games.
LCM: Toni Kroos
The manager decided to populate the midfield with Kovačić and Casemiro along with Modrić. For more than an hour, the experiment worked well and it could change Toni’s importance in the lineups.
RW: James Rodríguez
The press keeps spreading that the Colombian and Benítez don’t get along. Even though only they can know the truth, James has indeed not been the same recently. At the moment, Isco could easily play instead of him.
CAM: Gareth Bale
The best Bale was seen in Ukraine, something we hadn’t experienced in a while. Apart from his performances with the Wales national team, he was lacking at his club. From the left wing, he truly becomes another player.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
While it was Shakhtar and not Barcelona, Atlético or PSG, the Portuguese did get back to his good ways. He needs to keep this momentum going in La Liga, as his goals are needed to stay in the fight for the title.
ST: Karim Benzema
As he didn’t start in the Champions League matchday, he has better chances of being part of the starting lineup this time. Without him, Bale and Ronaldo shined, yet benching Karim more often doesn’t seem possible.