Venue: Santiago Benabeu Date: 09/07/2016, Kick-off: 7:30 PM GMT / 02:30 PM EST
Television: Sky Sports 1/HD; beIN Sports USA, beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A., beIN Sports en Español (USA)
Real Madrid and Deportivo La Coruña meet on Saturday in La Liga, but most of the focus of the match will be on the bench as Zinedine Zidane debuts as manager.
The Frenchman has succeeded Rafa Benítez in a shocking move, as club president Florentino Pérez hopes to turn things around for the team. Depor sit 7th on the table and a win could put them in European spots, so this won’t be an easy day at the Bernabéu.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
Benítez may be history, yet his system layout may stay at least for this game. Zizou likes to use the 4-2-3-1 in Castilla and it seems to fit the first team.
However, some changes may come as Bale could be moved to the left or right side while James will move to the center. Those would be the only alterations as everything else will remain as seen in the past months. On top of that, the entire squad is available.
GK: Keylor Navas
The Costa Rican has been reunited with his former trainer Luis Llopis, the man who helped him shine in Levante. This could be a huge thing for Keylor as he hasn’t replicated his form from the early months of the competition.
RB: Dani Carvajal
It’s odd that Benítez decided not to play him against Valencia. The right back is fully recovered and needs to play to get back into the dynamic. Zidane has both him and Danilo available, so it’s safe to say that it’s 50-50.
CB: Raphaël Varane
This one is a no-brainer. Zizou was the man who told Real to sign Varane in the first place. He’s proven to be a great investment and now with the former #5 as his boss, the results could be very positive.
CB: Sergio Ramos
He’s the captain and his role as a leader could grow. His new manager was present during his last great season in La Décima. Gaining back that form and creating an unbeatable Ramos-Varane pair should be a top priority.
Rumors of a left back signing in January have slowed down. The new coach may resort to using one of his former Castilla pupils as an alternative. The Brazilian must be that lethal weapon he knows he’s capable of being.
RCM: Luka Modrić
Zidane is a believer of the balance Ancelotti asked of his men, specifically the midfielders. The Croatian will continue to be a creative leader. At the moment, Kovačić and Casemiro have an unknown role.
LCM: Toni Kroos
Isco is highly regarded by Zizou and if anyone could make room for him, it might be Kroos. The German has been inconsistent this year and the team notices that. However, he’ll stay in the lineup for this clash.
RW: James Rodríguez
His former boss and he were supposedly in a silent war. Those bad vibrations were affecting his performances greatly. Real can’t afford to have a player of his caliber feeling uncomfortable and failing to contribute to the team.
CAM: Gareth Bale
The Welsh was one of the few that had a decent relationship with Rafa. Even though the new relationship just started, the full BBC has the support and admiration of Zinedine. His position could change now.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
He’s also potentially happy that Benítez was dismissed. A locker room that’s disconnected from the men in charge isn’t healthy. This adjustment could make him overcome his difficulty in excelling against big teams.
ST: Karim Benzema
Another Frenchman that will benefit from the manager change. While he wasn’t performing badly under Rafa, having one of his idols as his director can start a new era for Karim. His role could also change to make the BBC better.