Real Madrid is staying on top in La Liga and now it’s time for the Copa del Rey to return. Cultural Leonesa will once again revisit the usual David v Goliath that is the first round of the cup. They welcome Real at a difficult time since the team’s showing clear weaknesses and a lack of attitude from usual starters. It’s not unheard of for the small team to give the surprise.
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
Zinedine Zidane kept on trusting the BBC and leaving out men like Lucas Vázquez and Morata. This isn’t working out too well for him because these men have shown more effectiveness in their shorter playing time than the BBC. Some players are in need of a break and this may be the only time to do so if the team’s form continues to be inconsistent.
GK: Kiko Casilla
Keylor Navas did help get the three points on Sunday with some spectacular saves. However, it’s a tradition by now to give the second keeper the Copa del Rey. It’s a safe bet. Don’t count Yáñez out either.
He might get to play two games in a row. Dani Carvajal got his fifth yellow card and won’t be available for the next weekend. Defensively he has to step it up a bit, as he’s doing a decent job of joining the attack.
CB: Raphaël Varane
It will all come down to who Zidane thinks should rest, Pepe or the Frenchman. It may end up being the #3 because of his age. Still, this doesn’t mean the boss could make drastic changes and send in a Castilla player.
CB: Nacho Fernández
He hasn’t played since the beginning of the month. His presence is almost guaranteed if the usual Copa del Rey mentality sticks. His competitors are indeed having bad days, so it’s good to test out if Nacho can play more than just this.
LB: Fábio Coentrão
While he hasn’t been called up in the past two games, the club needs to be clear about the Portuguese’s situation. If he’s ready, this is the time to break him in. Marcelo has to rest at some point, and Carvajal and Danilo can’t always be covering for him.
RCM: James Rodríguez
If Toni Kroos is left out, it will be a tight race between the Colombian, Isco and Asensio for the two open spots. Because Isco featured over the weekend, it’s fair to assume that it’s James’ turn.
CM: Mateo Kovačić
Kroos wasn’t as smooth against Bilbao and fatigue could be a factor in that. With Casemiro and Modrić still unavailable, this may be the sole opportunity for him to recharge and sit a game out.
LCM: Marco Asensio
Just like with James, he will be in contention until the last minute. He’s still young and could use the full 90 minutes for the coach to assess his stamina. He’s managed to score in his first match in every competition: Super Cup, La Liga, and Champions League.
RW: Lucas Vázquez
It’s become customary that whenever he’s given minutes, he fights to do the best he can. This earns him the credit to be part of the starting lineup more regularly. His odds are very good for this one.
ST: Álvaro Morata
Like Lucas Vázquez, he completely changes the team’s system and attitude when he comes in. Even though Benzema is scoring goals lately, Morata deserves to start, even if it’s a lower-profile match.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
His anxiety has become a problem, which happens every single season when he can’t get any goals in. He needs to get past this as soon as possible, which is why he most likely won’t sit this one out.