Real Madrid started off the year quite nicely with a 3-0 win over Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey. Now accumulating 38 unbeaten matches, they hope to beat Granada and tie FC Barcelona’s record for Spanish clubs.
Their rivals have barely earned nine points this season. On top of that, in terms of goals they are the second least scoring and second most conceding team. Still, underestimating them would only do harm.
Preferred Lineup: 4-3-3
Zinedine Zidane used Wednesday’s match to rest two key attacking men, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. He will gain them back for this one, but still won’t be able to use Gareth Bale, Lucas Vázquez, Pepe and Mateo Kovačić.
January’s busy and crowded calendar is ideal for rotating frequently, so the coach could actually send out a lineup with a few replacements in the midfield.
GK: Keylor Navas
The boss kept the Copa del Rey for Kiko Casilla, despite Sevilla being a much more exigent squad. He did well, with a solid clean sheet, something that has rarely happened this season. The Costa Rican should follow suit.
RB: Dani Carvajal
During the first half, he was very persistent in the attack, yet James Rodríguez hogged the spotlight. If this arrangement helps the team score more goals and concede less, it wouldn’t be a negative thing.
CB: Raphaël Varane
He’s already improved his numbers, with this being his most prolific season goal-wise of his entire career. With four goals, the Frenchman’s establishing himself in the back and also becoming more threatening in attack.
CB: Nacho Fernández
Pepe got injured unexpectedly and could miss out on all January games. Nacho did a very good job and he shouldn’t have too much trouble for this game. He’s even played for often than the Portuguese this campaign.
He was once again that lethal addition. His name was more frequently in the narrator’s mouth than Asensio, who was occupying that win in the attack. If this is how he plans to continue 2017, it’s a big reason to be excited.
RCM: Luka Modrić
His presence was necessary versus Sevilla. However, Granada could be another chance for Zidane to use Danilo like he did during the week. Another option is putting Marcelo in the midfield and Danilo on the left back.
He’s getting closer to that player he was before his injury. Without Kovačić, he’ll continue to play week in and week out. Kroos would be the only other option for this position, and that might only happen when Casemiro is rested.
LCM: Toni Kroos
Like Modrić, resting him would be ideal for a game of this caliber. Isco or Asensio can take this spot with ease. He’s as important to keep healthy as the BBC. Having him stay sharp and with minimal fatigue can pay off in the final months.
RW: James Rodríguez
Arguably one of the best men on the field on Wednesday. With two goals, he was able to impress Zizou and regain some personal confidence for the year ahead. It’s safe to assume he’ll continue standing in for Lucas.
ST: Karim Benzema
Álvaro Morata was one of the surprises in the cup lineup. He wasn’t able to shine as much, so it’s very likely the #9 will return. Every opportunity each of them gets should be seized, as rotations could be more regular in this second half of the term.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
Resting him against his favorite victim may have been a bit negative for him, yet his teammates did very well without him. His appetite for goals can be satiated against Granada if he chooses to.