Deportivo La Coruña
Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
9th January 2016, 1930 GMT
A new era is set to dawn at Real Madrid with the appointment of Zinedine Zidane as the manager to replace Rafael Benitez — a move that Florentino Perez will be hoping pays off as much as FC Barcelona’s decision to appoint Pep Guardiola did.
There has been much fanfare around the decision to sack Rafa Benitez, and a lot of the speculation has said that Zidane’s appointment is nothing but a publicity stunt, seeing that the former World Cup winner is a fan favourite at the Santiago Bernabeu. Either way, it would be interesting to see an absolute legend of the game taking charge of one of the biggest teams in world football.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Real Madrid CF
It is quite unlikely that Zidane will make any wholesale changes to the starting XI, considering the fact that we are in the middle of the season, and that Real Madrid have not been producing catastrophically bad results. It is just the consistency that has been lacking for Los Blancos this season.
There have been rumours that the sacking of Benitez has upset Gareth Bale, and this could result in the Welshman slowly moving out of the Spanish capital, but for now, he is expected to start the game alongside Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.
This trio will be supported by the more than capable triumvirate of James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in midfield. In defence, Danilo is expected to continue at right-back with Dani Carvajal recovering from a thigh injury.
Sergio Ramos has a bit of an injury issue, and has been training separately from the rest of the squad this week. This could well mean that Raphael Varane starts at centre-back alongisde Pepe, with the Frenchman’s arrival in the Spanish capital made possible largely due to the intervention and influence of Zidane.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Navas; Marcelo, Varane, Pepe, Danilo; Rodriguez, Kroos, Modric; Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale.
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Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña S.A.D.
Real Madrid face tough opposition in the form of Deportivo, and Zidane would need to help his side bring their A-game to the Bernabeu to appease Los Blancos faithful, who have thus far endured a topsy-turvy season under Benitez. Deportivo on the other hand have been in good form themselves, being strong and resolute in defence.
The Turcos have suffered a couple of bad results in their last two games, losing to Villarreal, and drawing against lower side Mirandés, but on the whole, they have been rock solid in defence. Manager Víctor Sánchez would be hoping for nothing more than yet another sturdy display from his back line, at the heart of which lies the centre-back partnership of Alejandro Arribas and Sidnei. Fernando Navaro and Laure are set to flank the two centrebacks, forming Deportivo’s usual sturdy defence.
Midfield is going to be a crucial area for Deportivo, as they need to do help their defence out, and also look to break on the counter as often as possible. With the quality that Real Madrid have, both the defensive pivots Pedro Mosquera and Álex Bergantiños will have their work cut out against the Real Madrid attack, while attacking midfielder Faycal Fajr needs to constantly look for counter attacking options, while helping out in defence.
Luisinho and Juanfran’s role on the wings is crucial, as Deportivo would be looking to break with pace down the flanks to catch Real Madrid on the break. Deportivo striker Lucas Pérez has been saying that his side does not fear the Zidane factor, but they would certainly have their work cut out for them. While Juanfran and Luisinho would be looking to feed Pérez in, the 27 year-old Spaniard needs to score from the few chances that he gets.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Lux; Navarro, Arribas, Sidnei, Laure; Bergantiños, Mosquera; Luisinho, Fajr, Juanfran; Pérez.
- Both Real Madrid and Deportivo have conceded just 18 goals this season in La Liga.
- Deportivo have had five draws in their last 10 matches in all competitions.
- Real Madrid have scored 23 goals in their last five matches in all competitions.
- Deportivo have not lost in 10 of their last 11 away fixtures in the La Liga.
Player to watch out for
The Welshman has been on tremendous form of late, and is almost indispensable to the side right now. He has been a little disgruntled at Benitez’s sacking, but it would be interesting to see how he reacts to the coaching techniques of Zidane.
Real Madrid CF 1-0 Deportivo La Coruña S.A.D.
Deportivo has been defensively very well drilled. However, a Real Madrid side fully backed by the Bernabeu faithful is something that even the best sides in the world do not want to face, and that should drive Los Blancos to a narrow victory in their first match under the stewardship of Zizou.