Venue: Estadio Benito Villamarín Date: 24/01/2016, Time: 7:30 PM GMT / 2:30 PM EST
Television: Sky Sports 2/HD (UK),beIN Sports en Español, beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A. (USA)
The Zinedine Zidane era at Real Madrid has started with two crushing wins and overall good vibrations. The calendar isn’t too complicated, so the team can keep internalizing the new philosophy and preparing for the tough challenges ahead.
Real Betis will welcome Los Blancos with the hopes of staying away from the relegation zone. However, they stand as the club with the lowest number of goals scored in La Liga this season.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
The first two matches went smoothly in the attack department, but now with Gareth Bale’s injury, James or Jesé will have to come in. Zizou must make a decision and evaluate who will bring more to the table. In the defense department, things haven’t been that impressive, as careless mistakes still occur often. Nevertheless, time and practice can help get past those hiccups.
GK: Keylor Navas
He’s only kept two clean sheets in the last eight games. The problems in the defense and the frequency of rival attacks will force him to better his performances. The shadow of the FIFA ban should scare him as De Gea is back in the rumor mill.
RB: Dani Carvajal
The right back is all his if he keeps playing at current level. The new coach has given him a lot of presence in the attack and that’s been repaid with two assists. There’s a slight chance Danilo could feature in the lineup soon.
CB: Raphaël Varane
Out of the three center backs, he seems like the only no-brainer. He’s a great asset in the back and also in the front. At 22 years old, he needs to find stability in his role in order to keep growing as a defender.
CB: Sergio Ramos
One of the biggest disappointments of the season. That lengthy drama involving his contract renewal and salary increase has only brought negative consequences. He’s not focused and shouldn’t get too comfortable.
The market is about to close and there is no news of a possible signing. It looks like a defender from the youth system will be the way to go. The squad will need the best Marcelo when the Champions League and El Clásico or El Derbi arrive.
RCM: Luka Modrić
Along with his partner Kroos, the midfield is taken care of in the best of ways. Regardless of his lack of goals or the poor number of assists, he’s extremely influential in how each match develops and how the team dominates.
LCM: Toni Kroos
He’s recovered that form he had lost at some point last year. The team is noticing this because of how effortlessly the ball flows. Despite the great news, he shouldn’t be overused, especially when the big games haven’t come around yet.
RW: James Rodríguez
There’s been some talk about his supposed poor physical condition this week. It’s going to come down to Jesé and him for this spot. It seems like he has the edge for now, but the #20 shouldn’t be ruled out.
Zidane is putting him ahead of James, yet his performances aren’t really standing out. When they’ve played together, they’ve done very well. He’s more likely to stay in the center and push the Colombian to the wing.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
After scoring his first two goals of 2016, he can let go of the anxiety and strive to remain consistent. Since Gareth Bale is out, he’ll have one less teammate to fight with for those clear goal opportunities.
ST: Karim Benzema
Both him and Bale left the Bernabéu with physical problems last weekend. Even so, the Frenchman is fully recovered and is expected to start once again. He’s going through a great moment.