After that massive victory against APOEL Nicosia, Real Madrid will look to keep building momentum when they host minnows Malaga at the Santiago Bernabeu

That 0-6 win against the Cyrpiots was Real Madrid’s biggest win in the competition in nearly four decades. In the La Liga however, Zidane’s men have some serious catching up to do with the likes of Barcelona and Valencia, who are ten and six points above them on the table respectively.

Their last La Liga outing was a 0-0 draw against cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid and that put them even further behind Valencia and Barcelona. However, they have a chance to make up the gap tonight as those two sides are going head-to-head at the Mestalla on Sunday.

Malaga are currently being managed by Real Madrid legend Michel, who spent 20 years with Los Blancos. His side currently sit at 18th place on the table. They won their first game of the season last month, a narrow 2-1 win against Celta Vigo, having gone 9 games before that without a win.

Michel would undoubtedly love to get a win over his former side tonight as he tries to get his side out of the relegation zone. However, he will be more than familiar with the magnitude of the task at hand but a win or draw would surely come as a huge boost to to their confidence and they will take inspiration from the likes of Real Betis and Girona, both of whom beat the Madrid giants earlier in the season.

Tactics

Real Madrid

Real Madrid are expected to be without Gareth Bale, Mateo Kovacic, Keylor Navas, Asensio and Sergio Ramos. As a result, we will likely see 3 major changes to the starting XI which start at the GSP Stadium in their 0-6 thrashing of APOEL Nicosia a few days ago.

Zidane is expected to revert to the 4-3-2-1 formation which has been the norm this season, from the 4-3-3 they fielded against the Cypriots. Nacho Fernandez is suspended for this tie, so defence will likely comprise of Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Raphael Varane and Jesus Vallejo.

Casemiro will almost certainly come back into defensive midfield ahead of the injured Marco Asensio to partner Modric and Kroos in midfield. Former Malaga star Isco will likely come back into the starting XI, replacing Lucas Vazquez and set up shop in behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Probable Starting XI(4-3-1-2): Kiko Casilla; Dani Carvajal, Jesus Vallejo, Rapahel Varane, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos; Isco; Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid vs Malaga(1)

Malaga CF

Michel will be likely be able to welcome back captain Recio into the squad. Center forward Youssef En-Nesyri will likely have to sit this one out.  The Albicelestes are expected to make just 2 changes to the starting XI that started in their 3-2 victory against Deportivo La Coruna.

Roberto will likely hold on to his place in goal, with Juankar, Baysse, Henandez and Rosales making up the defence. Keko and Chory Castro are likely to retain their places on the wings, as will Rolon in central midfield.

Recio will likely come into the squad and replace Adrian Gonzalez alongside him. Colombain striker Adalberto Penaranda will likely be replaced by Borja Baston upfront, who is expected to partner Diego Rolan in defence, thereby completing the 4-4-2 formation.

Probable Starting XI(4-4-2): Roberto; Roberto Rosales, Luis Hernandez, Paul Baysse, Juankar; Keko, Recio, Esteban Rolon, Chory Castro; Borja Baston, Diego Rolan

Real Madrid vs Malaga(2)

Key Statistics

  • Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 16 goals in 16 La Liga appearances against Malaga CF.
  • Real Madrid haven’t been defeated at the Santiago Bernabeu by Malaga CF in their previous 16 encounters
  • Malaga CF have conceded a minimum of 2 goals in 7 of their previous 8 La Liga matches.
  • Malaga CF have failed to score in their last 6 away matches.
  • Real Madrid have lost only 1 of their 32 matches against Malaga CF in the La Liga.

Player To Watch

Real Madrid: Isco

Real Madrid's midfielder Isco celebrates his second goal during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs RCD Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on October 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Isco celebrates his second goal during the Spanish league football match vs RCD Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on October 1, 2017. (Picture Courtesy – Getty Images)

Isco has arguably been Real Madrid’s best attacking player this season. He has scored 5 goals and resigerest 4 assists in all comeptitions this season and Zidane’s new formation has seemingly brought the best out of him, and all eyes will be on him to see how he performs against his former side.

Prediction

Real Madrid 3-0 Malaga

Los Blancos are coming off their biggest European victory in 39 years and confidence will be high in the champions’ dressing room. They will also be aware that one of Barcelona or Valencia, who are placed first and second respectively, will be facing each other on Sunday and will be dropping points.

So that makes winning tonight at the Bernabeu all the most crucial. They will have no exuces to not come away with all three points against a Malaga side who have won only two matches the entire season. We can expect Zidane’s men to take no prisoners tonight and they should win this comfortably.

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