A Champions League draw against Legia Warsaw brought back the Real Madrid we saw during the month of September. If the Polish squad was able to almost win the game, this gives some sort of confidence to Real’s next La Liga rival, Leganés. While the top spot is still theirs, any sort of mistakes will threaten it. The international break is coming up and getting back on track is a priority.
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
Zinedine Zidane pushed for the 4-2-4 in the UCL with both Morata and Benzema. This ultimately didn’t work out, so this system probably won’t be used anytime soon. The good news is that Luka Modrić seems to be ready to play, hopefully bringing some balance to the midfield. Before his men leave with their national teams, he must not let the draw bring more negative results.
GK: Keylor Navas
He conceded three goals on Wednesday, the same amount he conceded in the entire competition the previous season. His form is something to be worried about, yet it doesn’t seem like Casilla will take his spot.
RB: Dani Carvajal
He was arguably the strongest of the back four on Wednesday’s draw. Danilo hasn’t really done enough to take this spot for himself. For the moment, there’s no debate and Carvajal will keep starting.
CB: Raphaël Varane
Without the two most experienced defenders, he has to prove that once they’re gone, the future of the defense is safe. Leadership hasn’t been his strongest suit at Real, but we know he’s able to step up, as he’s shown with the France national team.
CB: Nacho Fernández
With Pepe out, he’ll most likely keep playing, unless the coach gives the youngster Tejero a chance. These types of opportunities won’t come that often for him, so he must strive to do well in every match he gets.
Fábio Coentrão was the main surprise of the past lineup. He proved he’s far from being a regular starter. However, he must be played if he wants to improve. Marcelo has it all to return since he’s fully recovered.
RCM: Mateo Kovačić
Even though Luka Modrić is apparently recovered, Zizou must think this carefully. Pressuring him to come back and risking a relapse could leave him out of the crucial Madrid derby to come after the break.
CM: Toni Kroos
The German continues to play full matches and is expected to do the same with his national team. These sort of decisions could really affect his performance in the critical months of the season.
The Kovačić-Isco pair has been the one that gave the team more balance since Modrić and Casemiro became unavailable. Because of this, there’s a high probability that the pair will repeat on Sunday.
RW: Gareth Bale
His spectacular volley wasn’t enough to win his team the three points. While he individually celebrated his new contract with a good performance, the collective achievements are more important.
ST: Karim Benzema
With another striker next to him, he stood out and outshined his competitor. Still, he shouldn’t get too comfortable, as Morata has shown he’s hungry for more than just the last 20 minutes of every game.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
Despite a hat trick that saved the three points against Alavés, he hasn’t been the leading force that has driven Los Blancos in the past years. Scoring now would be good, but a good performance would be more appreciated versus Atlético Madrid.