Real Madrid will be looking to carry their winning momentum forward when they take on Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey quarter-final on Thursday.

Real Madrid will be aiming to advance to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey when they lock horns with fellow La Liga outfit Real Sociedad in the final eight stages at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday evening. And Los Blancos will once again be without their marquee attacker Eden Hazard, who is still not fully fit to return to action.

Speaking of the Belgian wing-wizard in his pre-match presser, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane had said, “We’re happy to have him for a long time. He’s had a bad injury and now he’s slowly getting better”. Hazard has been excluded from the 19-man squad announced for the Sociedad game by Zidane.

Along with Hazard, Real Madrid will also be without the services of fellow wingers Lucas Vazquez and Gareth Bale while Zidane has taken the opportunity to rest the likes of Casemiro and Dani Carvajal as well. Hence, there ought to be a number of changes to the side that defeated Atletico Madrid last weekend.

In goal, Alphonse Areola is likely to replace Thibaut Courtois, having started both of Real Madrid’s last two cup games. With Carvajal left out of the squad, Nacho is in line to start at right-back, while Marcelo should come in for Ferland Mendy at left-back. No changes are expected at the heart of the defence where Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos should start again.

In Casemiro’s absence, Federico Valverde is set to slot in as the defensive midfielder for Real Madrid against Sociedad. The youngster, who has been one of the biggest positives for the Merengues this term, ought to be partnered by Toni Kroos in the middle of the park, while James Rodriguez also could start in place of Luka Modric.

With no Bale, Hazard and Vazquez in the squad, Zidane is likely to call upon the Brazilian duo Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior to provide the incision from the wide areas. Vinicius was on the scoresheet in Real Madrid’s last cup tie and was a catalyst to their win against Atletico after coming on from the bench and will be looking to put in another strong performance.

Upfront, Luka Jovic started the last cup tie, but having struggled to make an impact, he could be overlooked this time out. Speaking of the Serb, Zidane said, “I’m trying to help him get comfortable in the team. He’s been here five months and it may be difficult for him, but within the adjustment process it’s normal what’s happening to him. Patience, hard work and more hard work”.

Karim Benzema ought to continue as the focal point of the Real Madrid attack once again, ahead of Jovic.

Real Madrid Predicted XI: Areola; Nacho, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Valverde, James; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius

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