The UEFA Champions League is gone until February, with the round of 16 draw the only pending assignment. Real Madrid must move on from thinking about their possible rival and return to La Liga.
They’ll host sixteenth-placed Deportivo La Coruña in a battle to keep the six-point lead over FC Barcelona. The Galician squad is dangerously close to relegation and will want some points to stay ahead of a crestfallen Valencia.
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
Zinedine Zidane received some very good news this week when both Toni Kroos and Álvaro Morata completely recovered from their injuries. He gave them minutes on Wednesday against Borussia Dortmund. Their return will increase the pressure on the coach to formulate the best lineup and keep dividing the minutes fairly. Gareth Bale remains the only man to be out for the long run.
GK: Keylor Navas
He made some very good saves, but his defense also contributed to yet another night of conceding goals. The team has conceded in 19 of the 23 official games played this season. Ironically enough, they’re still unbeaten.
Dani Carvajal is miles ahead of his competitor. The #2 will probably be important in the Club World Cup. This would be a good opportunity for the Brazilian to make a good impression and change his rather poor calendar year.
Raphaël Varane had a spectacular performance before the game went south. He’s still ahead of the Portuguese because of this. However, with this being a team near the bottom of the table, Pepe could make a comeback.
CB: Sergio Ramos
The captain was also doing great before Borussia came back. He’ll feature constantly unless he gets injured or suspended. He should probably force the fifth yellow card and miss the Granada game, or else he could risk his presence against Sevilla after that.
Arguably the man to blame for the Champions League tie. He broke the offside trap on the first goal and left his wing uncovered on the equalizer. This doesn’t make him look good. Nacho could have very good odds if the coach feels playful.
RCM: Luka Modrić
One of the key pieces in the regular lineup. With all midfielders now available, his spot is the one that has the most chances of being taken by another man. Isco, Kovačić, and James will be in contention until the last minute.
Still far from the form we saw for most of 2016, there are high hopes he can go back to being that force of nature. He’ll most likely keep playing to get back in shape at a faster rate than he would on the bench.
LCM: Toni Kroos
Despite reportedly being out until 2017, the German proved once again his physical state is one of the best in the squad. The entire midfield is now healthy. Zizou could decide to save him instead for the FIFA Club World Cup.
RW: Lucas Vázquez
A strong performer versus Dortmund, he’s slowly settling in as Gareth Bale’s sole replacement. If James Rodríguez sets his mind to stepping up his game, he would be the major threat to Lucas.
ST: Álvaro Morata
He came in for the last few minutes of the Wednesday match. Even though Karim Benzema had a redeeming performance with a brace, Morata’s chances are good. If he doesn’t start, he’ll probably play a good while.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
The post kept him from scoring the goal that would’ve meant the win for Real. He has a bit of anxiety again, so Depor is the ideal rival for him to get a good number of goals. He needs to defend his lead in the Pichichi table.