Zinedine Zidane is expected to ring in the changes when Real Madrid lock horns with Real Zaragoza in the Copa Del Rey Round of 16.
With the much-awaited Madrid derby just around the corner, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane will have some important decisions to make when his side takes on Real Zaragoza in the Copa Del Rey Round of 16.
After securing a narrow win over Valladolid last weekend, the Frenchman has, as expected, rested a few of his key players by omitting them from the 19-man squad for the trip to Zaragoza. Casemiro was among the players to be excluded from the squad.
In his pre-match press conference, Zidane stressed the importance of the Brazilian in the Real Madrid squad, stating, “Casemiro is a crucial player who’s had a lot of minutes. Some players get more game time than others, that’s not going to change.” But, his omission from the squad means Federico Valverde should get the nod in the holding midfield slot.
The Uruguayan starlet could be partnered by Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, with Real Madrid lacking options in central midfield.
In defence, meanwhile, Eder Militao was not included in the squad. But, we still expect Sergio Ramos to make way for Dani Carvajal, whose presence will allow Nacho Fernandez to shift into a central role. The Spaniard will be partnered by Raphael Varane at the heart of Real Madrid’s four-man backline, with Marcelo replacing Ferland Mendy at left-back.
In goal, Alphonso Areola is a guaranteed starter. The Frenchman is expected to replace Thibaut Courtois between the sticks as he looks forward to what will only be his seventh appearance for Real Madrid.
Moving forward, Zidane provided an update on the fitness of Eden Hazard. The Frenchman said, “Hazard is back out on the pitch with the coaches but he hasn’t re-joined the group yet. We’ll see how we manage him this week.”
He will surely be hoping that the Belgian returns before the Madrid derby on Saturday. But, in the meantime, with Gareth Bale also excluded from the squad, we can expect both Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Junior to be deployed in the wide attacking roles this midweek.
Vinicius, in particular, will be keen on making an impact after being outperformed by his compatriot on the opposite flank this season. Speaking of which, this could be an important game for Luka Jovic.
The Croat has been labelled as a flop since making a big-money move to the Bernabeu in the summer. Likely to start ahead of Karim Benzema in the number nine slot, Jovic will, therefore, be keen on proving a point this week.
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Areola; Carvajal, Nacho, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Valverde, Kroos; Rodrygo, Jovic, Vinicius Junior