One point from two Champions League matches, Atletico and Barcelona lurking in La Liga, no fit left-back in the entire squad, an unacceptable number of muscle injuries and relapses with no accountability from the medical staff or the new physical trainer, and a team in disarray again, just after two weeks of good form are only some of things that glare at a spectator before Real Madrid’s home game against Granada.
This team cannot catch a break from injuries, poor defending, poor concentration, poor finishing and amidst all of this, they are facing a Granada team on a roll to keep their slender lead alive. Real Madrid have to start all over again like they did after the PSG defeat but they are walking on thin ice. It’s only early October and Zidane’s team has somehow managed to corner themselves into a position where they have to start taking every game like a final, not just definitely in Europe but also, gradually in La Liga as well.
Only two points separate the Top 5 teams in the division and we all know what happens once Barcelona gets a sniff of the top position. It’s all downhill for all other rivals from there on, so if Zidane wants his players to win the league, another debacle like the one against Valladolid or Club Brugge at the Bernabéu would account for one more disaster.
Zidane has to work with a different depleted squad this time with his starting goalkeeper and all left-backs out injured. There’s still no sign of Brahim while Lucas Vázquez and Vinicius Jr. have been rested. Here’s Real Madrid’s 19-man squad for matchday 8.
Areola, Altube, Belman, Carvajal, Militão, Ramos, Varane, Odriozola, Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Valverde, James, Isco, Hazard, Benzema, Bale, Jović, Rodrygo.
Diego Martinez has also named a 19-man squad for their trip to the Spanish capital. Granada are also missing a few key names due to injuries. Here’s their list of players who made it to Madrid:
Rui Silva, Gonalons, Martínez, Germán, Vadillo, Soldier, Doors, Ismail, Azeez, Aaron, Carlos Neva, Víctor Díaz, Montoro, Ramos, Yangel Herrera, Domingos Duarte, Machís, Carlos Fernández, and Unai.
What to Expect
Since there are no left-backs in the squad and only five defenders are left to choose from, it is almost certain that either Carvajal or Odriozola will play as a makeshift left-back while the other will play in his designated role. All midfielders are available for selection for the first time in the season yet Zidane may opt for a more reassuring scheme of tactics with his 4-3-3. Even then, the chances of Luka Modric starting are slender. The Croatian has just gotten back from injury and Madrid must be cautious with him to avoid what happened with Marcelo due to rushing into the action. James may be the starter with Kroos and Casemiro in that case. Resting Kroos might be too big of a gamble against the second-placed team of Spain at the moment.
Areola will most definitely start the game in the absence of Courtois. Hazard, Bale, and Benzema will once again form an attacking trident that hasn’t shown any signs of real potency in front of the goal so far in the season. It’s been ages since Isco featured for Real Madrid and it’ll be refreshing to see him play a part in this game to bring some creativity into Real Madrid’s one-dimensional midfield. Luka Jović is yet to open his account for the White Club, so, he will be looking forward to another opportunity and Rodrygo will be doing the same after scoring within two-minutes of his official debut for the club.
The re-emergence of the famous 4-2-3-1 formation has allured Granada FC as well and they have wasted no chances to capitalize on it. It is the same formation that Diego Martinez’s men used to beat Barcelona 2-0 and on Saturday, the same approach is expected.
The beauty of the 4-2-3-1 formation is that, if executed properly, this formation gives the right balance between defense and offense. The two pivots can give extra cover when the team doesn’t have the ball and when the ball is won back, the team can move forward by shifting the formation into a 4-3-3. Granada will be doing the same as they will try to hit Madrid on the counter.
Real Madrid: DDWWL
Real Madrid: Areola, Odriozola, Varane, Ramos, Carvajal, Casemiro, Kroos, James, Bale, Benzema, Hazard.
Granada: Silva; Diaz, Duarte, Sanchez, Neva, Herrera, Montoro, Machis, Azeez, Puertas, Fernandez.
Players to Watch
Gareth Bale, Real Madrid
The Welshman has been one of the more consistent performers for the team this season and he should be raring to go again after being rested for the Club Brugge fixture.
Having scored three goals already in seven games, Antonio Puertas is going to be a constant threat for Real Madrid’s depleted defensive line-up in this game.
- Granada’s only win from their last 15 La Liga games against Real Madrid came through an own goal from Cristiano Ronaldo.
- Real Madrid have won all of their last eight league games against Granada.
- Granada along with Villareal have the most superior goal difference in the league (7), after seven rounds.