They were barely saved by Luka Modrić last weekend and now the rivals will get more complicated for Real Madrid. Athletic Bilbao will visit the Santiago Bernabéu and they need the points to stay in European spots.
Still without Marcelo and Bale, Real must prove that they will fight for La Liga until the very last match. In addition, they must focus on the moment and forget about AS Roma right now.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
Zinedine Zidane lost Marcelo now and the left wing will need to be approached differently. Nacho and Danilo don’t contribute to the attack as well as Marcelo. Making the left side a more defensive one might be the right way to go, as opponents shouldn’t be given any chances. Carvajal does a better job at going back and forth, so whoever replaces the Brazilian must be more careful.
GK: Keylor Navas
His sporadic mistakes are reminiscent of the Casillas we saw in his last Madrid years. He should strive to go back to being a force to be reckoned with. He only has a few months before the summer transfer window comes along to threaten his role.
RB: Dani Carvajal
He’s become the true secret weapon since Rafa Benítez left. He assists, crosses, defends, fights and much more. His teammates should follow his example and consistently deliver the right performances.
CB: Raphaël Varane
While he didn’t do as well versus Granada, there’s no doubt that he must stay in the lineup. Even when he’s beaten or loses the ball, he’s fast enough to go back and try to fix it. Williams and Aduriz need special treatment from him.
CB: Sergio Ramos
Just this week we saw rumors that Aymeric Laporte is a priority for the summer. The captain shouldn’t get too comfortable, as he’s not showing any leadership. A lot more is expected from him.
LB: Nacho Fernández
It’s a 50-50 chance between him and Danilo. The Brazilian had been suffering from some physical problems, so risking him isn’t ideal. Nacho’s appearance last Saturday may be set him up for starting this one.
RCM: Luka Modrić
He was the savior the team desperately needed at Granada. His goals don’t come that often, still they always come in a beautiful fashion. His coach asked him to shoot more from outside the box and it could pay off.
LCM: Toni Kroos
Just like his partner, he should try to shoot more, as his right foot is powerful and precise. They will both have to show that they’re the right pair even in high profile games. They do suffer from some careless mistakes here and there.
RW: James Rodríguez
He’s slowly improving, but that will need to be accelerated in the next few matches. The presence in the Champions League is at stake and so is the fight for the league. He must show that he’s committed.
Zidane keeps on trusting, yet his performances vary each week. It’s really going to be a tough decision when Gareth Bale returns. Both him and James have some pros and cons over each other at the moment.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
If you see the breakdown of the goals he’s scored this year, you’ll see that his contribution is small compared to other years. Without his goals, Real would have the same points in La Liga. He must step it up.
ST: Karim Benzema
He scored the opening once again last weekend, proving that he’s become the most important attacker this season. His form is most likely the best we’ve seen since he was signed in 2009 and it will be critical in the coming weeks.