The La Liga leaders with the fewest goals conceded in the division have traveled to Pamplona to take on Osasuna. Zidane emphasizes on leaving the Copa del Rey disaster behind to inject some life within his troops. Eden Hazard has been out of action for three months and as things stand, nobody knows if he is going to take the field for Real Madrid in the near future as the manager clearly does not consider him match fit yet, having only a couple of games ahead of the monumental clash with Manchester City which may well decide their fate in the Champions League. But all of that can wait for later as Zinedine Zidane prefers to move with one game at a time. Welcome to our preview for Real Madrid’s La Liga matchday 23.
Disproportionate yet vital
Osasuna sits 12th in La Liga having won only two games in their last 5 fixtures. Apart from the disaster in the Copa del Rey, Real Madrid have been in very good form in the league recently. They are unbeaten in the last five League games and especially the win against Atlético Madrid at home that came after eight years has lifted the team in terms of morale. But then again a defeat like the one against Real Sociedad sets the team back a little. Madrid now must pick themselves up from this hole and make sure that there are no slip-ups as Barcelona are trailing them by just three points. Real Madrid can have the chance to take a six-point lead temporarily, as Barcelona play Real Betis away from home later in the evening. Osasuna’s league position and form may not represent this fixture as a very appealing one but there are no easy trips for Los Blancos.
Jagoba Arrasate has named a 22 man squad for the game against Real Madrid. Here’s the list:
S. Herrera Rubén, Nacho Vidal, Raúl Navas, Unai García, David García, Roncaglia, Lato Estupiñán, Oier, Fran Mérida, R. Torres, Rubén García, Rober Ibáñez, Darko, Iñigo Pérez and Moncayola, M. Cardona, Enric Gallego, Jose Arnaiz, Juan Villar and Adrián.
Zinedine Zidane has named a 19-man squad for the trip to Osasuna. Eden Hazard is still not fit to be in the matchday squad. Bale, Carvajal, Casemiro, and Lucas are back in the team. James injured himself against Sociedad and he is now on the sidelines. Nacho and Rodrygo were overlooked. Here’s the full squad:
Alphonse Areola, Thibaut Courtois, Diego Altube, Dani Carvajal, Éder Militão, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo, Ferland Mendy, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Fede Valverde, Isco, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez, Luka Jovic, Vinicius Jr.
What to Expect
Despite the absence of Hazard, Zidane has traveled with a strong team. Real Madrid needs a big performance to get out of the mental set-back of the defeat against Sociedad. Zidane is expected to field a strong starting line-up with his preferred 4-3-3 formation that can mold into a 4-4-2 diamond if needed. Vinicius Jr. seems to have earned a spot in the XI after a brilliant show at the Bernabéu in the Quarter Final of the Copa del Rey. Isco may return to the starting line-up along with Modric to provide better support in the midfield which missed Casemiro’s machine-esque presence over midweek. The return of Carvajal, Varane, and Courtois will definitely help Madrid’s defensive causes.
Jagoba Arrasate has used two formations in his last three league games. While the 4-2-3-1 could be an ambitious choice, a flat 4-4-2 would be rather safer considering Madrid’s dependence on their flanks to create chances. Osasuna will definitely miss their to top scorer Chimy Avila upfront but Enric Gallego is primed to replace him in the starting line-up. The game will definitely be very fast-paced where Madrid’s priority will be to hold onto the ball and prevent sudden breaks from their opponents. Zidane’s high press might need a bit of a tweak to make up for the mistakes that were committed a couple of days ago at the Bernabeu.
Head to head
Last 19 matches.
Real Madrid: 14
Osasuna: L L W W D
Real Madrid: L W W W W
Osasuna: Herrera; Vidal, Unai, Garcia, Estupinan; Moncayola, Darko, Torres, Ruben, Ibanez; Gallego.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Casemiro, Modric, Kroos; Isco, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
Players to watch
Benzema, Real Madrid
The Real Madrid talisman will have to take the responsibility of leading the attack once again.
Ruben Garcia, Osasuna
Garcia is Osasuna’s second-highest scorer behind Avila and Madrid must keep an eye on him.
The match will start at 16.00 CET in El Sadar.
Jesus Gil Manzano.
“At the numerical level there are three points, at the level of difficulty it is more difficult than other times, and the meaning is different also because we know that it is the game of the year here at El Sadar. It is a special game and to see if we can be close to getting the three points and achieve something that we know our people love,” – Jagoba Arrasate.
“We know what sort of game it’s going to be, it’ll be a tough match at what’s a tough ground and they’re tough opponents and are doing really well. We know the challenges we’ll face, but we’re ready to put in a strong performance and give our all. It’s yet another cup final for us.” – Zinedine Zidane.