The La Liga race is still tight, as Barcelona, Atlético and Real Madrid all won during the week. Los Blancos will stay relatively close to the Spanish capital as they visit Rayo Vallecano. Placed near the relegation zone, winning some points would be of great help for Paco Jémez’s team. With one eye set on the UEFA Champions League semi-finals against Manchester City, Real must still go for the three points.
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
Zinedine Zidane came out with his strongest lineup on Wednesday. Given the lower profile of this clash, the French coach may decide to send out a team reminiscent of the Getafe day. Isco and James are a perfect pair to keep Modrić, Kroos and Casemiro fresh. In addition, there could be changes in the defense to preserve names like Marcelo or Carvajal ahead of the European encounter.
GK: Keylor Navas
The Costa Rican is still going strong, with great performances week in and week out. There’s a chance Kiko Casilla could be the surprise of the lineup. It will come down to the coach’s final analysis.
He played a very decent match against Villarreal. The Bernabéu crowd is still acting a bit hostile towards him. However, with good performances, people will have to change their mind. Carvajal is expected to play City, so the Brazilian has good odds to repeat.
CB: Raphaël Varane
He proved that he’s hungry for more minutes by being the strongest defender in the previous game. Pepe wasn’t called up for Villarreal, but he should return to face Rayo. The Frenchman has the edge right now.
CB: Sergio Ramos
We saw one of his strongest performances of the season on Wednesday. If this wasn’t just a one-off thing, his coach should get excited about what the captain could bring in these last few weeks of football.
LB: Nacho Fernández
Marcelo keeps on adding more and more minutes under his belt. If there’s a moment when it would be smart to reserve him, it’s now. After Rayo, the challenges will require that he’s present, so Nacho is a good option for Saturday.
RCM: James Rodríguez
The Colombian isn’t being picked for the tough tests. Nevertheless, he can become very useful when the starting midfield requires a break. If he takes advantage of every minute he gets, he may convince his own boss to use him more.
CM: Toni Kroos
Last time at Getafe, he played in the center of the midfield. Unless Zizou decides to put Kovačić or Casemiro, the German seems like a safe bet. It would be smarter to save him for the Etihad Stadium.
Like James, he’s lost prominence because of the strength of the starting midfield. He’ll be good enough for this, as generating more chances is the priority here. Solving the match early will be their main goal.
RW: Lucas Vázquez
Every single opportunity he’s given, he tries his absolute best to exploit. With an amazing goal versus Villarreal, Lucas made sure his teammates and the fans didn’t miss Gareth Bale. He should repeat.
ST: Karim Benzema
Once again he scored the first goal, making him an essential attacker this season. There’s a chance he could be saved for the Manchester duel to avoid any unnecessary injuries. Still, playing from the start is the most likely choice.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
While he may not have had a lucky afternoon during the week, he’s always important to have. Even though he left the pitch early, it seems it was only a scare and he won’t miss this one, unless Zidane chooses otherwise. Jesé would come in instead.