Real Madrid will be aiming to build on their weekend victory, when they host newly-promoted Osasuna on Matchday 6 of the 2019-20 La Liga on Wednesday night.
After being mauled at the hands of PSG in the Champions League last week, Real Madrid bounced back to winning ways, beating Sevilla 1-0 in a high-profile La Liga encounter at the weekend. And while the performance wasn’t all too convincing, manager Zinedine Zidane will be hoping that his side build on the win and bag three points when they face Osasuna at home on Wednesday.
Real Madrid are currently third in the table, level on points with leaders Granada and second-placed Athletic Bilbao. Should they win on Wednesday, Los Blancos stand a chance of going on top of the standings, provided Bilbao fail to bag three points against Leganes. Unbeaten in the league so far, Real Madrid will want to extend their run to six games.
But, newly-promoted Osasuna will not make things easy for Real Madrid. Jagoba Arrasate’s men are yet to be beaten since returning to the top-flight, although they have won just one of their five matches so far, which came on the opening day of the season. Their most recent fixture ended in a goalless draw against Real Betis this past weekend.
Los Rojillos have already managed to hold reigning champions Barcelona to a draw this term and will be hoping to repeat the exploits or even go a step further in Madrid this week.
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Real Madrid have been handed a blow as summer signing Ferland Mendy is ruled out of the clash after he seemed to have picked up an injury against Sevilla. Marcelo is also unavailable, leaving Zidane sweating over his options at left-back. Marco Asensio will remain absent as well for the hosts, but Luka Modric, Isco and Brahim Diaz have returned to training.
With the derby against Atletico Madrid coming up at the weekend, Zidane will be forced into rotating his troops when Osasuna come visiting. However, no change is expected in goal, with Thibaut Courtois holding on to his spot after keeping his first clean sheet of the season.
There will be alterations in defence, with Alvaro Odriozola likely to get the nod at right-back, replacing Dani Carvajal, while Nacho is expected to come in at left-back in place of Mendy. Eder Militao should earn a recall to the side to partner captain Sergio Ramos at the heart of the defence, with Raphael Varane likely to be rested.
Federico Valverde should make his first start of the season in the middle of the park as Toni Kroos is likely to be given a breather for the midweek clash. Casemiro, though, should continue to feature from the get-go. Isco and Modric are unlikely to be rushed back to action, with James Rodriguez expected to continue in the No. 10 role on Wednesday.
Changes are expected on both the flanks against Osasuna, with Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Jr. in line to start in place of Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard. Karim Benzema, who scored the only goal of the last match, is likely to be benched keeping in view the big game at the weekend. Summer recruit Luka Jovic should replace the Frenchman in attack.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Odriozola, Militao, Ramos, Nacho; Casemiro, Valverde; Vazquez, Rodriguez, Vinicius; Jovic
The visitors will go into the game without the services of captain and midfielder Oier, while centre-back David Garcia also misses out. Unai Garcia, Kike Barja, Inigo Perez and Darko Brasanac remain sidelined as well. Arrasate is expected to field his team in a 4-4-2 formation at the Bernabeu.
— C. A. OSASUNA (@CAOsasuna) September 24, 2019
35-year-old Ruben Martinez should continue between the sticks for Los Rojillos, while Nacho Vidal and Pervis Estupinan are likely to hold on to their places as the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. With David Garcia not travelling, Facundo Roncaglia should partner Aridane Hernandez at the centre of the backline.
In the absence of captain Oier, Jon Moncoyola should start in one of the two pivot positions in the middle of the park against Real Madrid. The second slot should once again be occupied by former Atletico Madrid man Fran Merida. The width will come from Roberto Torres and Robert Ibanez, who is expected to replace Ruben Garcia on the left flank.
Chimy Avila should once again get the nod as part of the two-pronged attack for the visitors. There will be a change of partners for the 25-year-old though, with Brandon likely to replace new arrival Adrian Lopez, who is being rested.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Martinez; Vidal, Roncaglia, Hernandez, Estupinan; Torres, Merida, Moncayola, Ibanez; Avila, Brandon
- Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last eight La Liga games matches Osasuna, winning six of those. Their last defeat against the Rojillos came in January 2011.
- Osasuna are unbeaten in their last five La Liga games (W1 D4), drawing the last four. The last time they drew more games in a row was in May 1991 (6).
- Real Madrid have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four La Liga games at home – their longest such streak since April 2015 (five), also under Zinedine Zidane.
- Osasuna manager Jagoba Arrasate has only won one of his five managerial assignments against Real Madrid in all competitions (D1 L3) – a 4-2 win as Real Sociedad manager in La Liga in August 2014.
- Real Madrid have scored 10 goals in their opening five La Liga encounters this term – their second lowest goal-tally at this stage of the competition in the last seven campaigns (nine in 2017-18).
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The Brazilian international arrived at Real Madrid for a hefty price-tag, which brought along a lot of expectations on him. However, he is yet to get a proper look-in into Zinedine Zidane’s team.
Eder Militao has made one substitute appearance in La Liga so far, while he made his first start for Los Blancos in the Champions League clash against PSG. And it would be fair to say that his full debut against the Ligue 1 champions was forgettable at best as he put in an erroneous display in Paris.
Likely to be given a chance on Wednesday night against Osasuna, Militao will want to redeem himself with a strong performance at home and endear himself to the Real Madrid faithful.
Real Madrid 1-0 Osasuna
Both Real Madrid and Osasuna are unbeaten in La Liga this season and will want to protect that record when they lock horns at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night. Zinedine Zidane will have one eye on the Madrid derby at the weekend and should make changes to his team, but Osasuna are likely to field their strongest XI.
Osasuna aren’t the most free-scoring side in the competition, though, and have netted just four goals in five matches so far, two of which came in a single game. And while they will ask a few questions of an altered Real Madrid backline, it is unlikely that Los Rojillos will pose a serious threat.
Real Madrid themselves have found things difficult in the attacking third and have been heavily reliant on Karim Benzema to deliver the goods. The Frenchman is likely to be benched though, which should make things harder for them. But, we at The Hard Tackle expect the Merengues‘ superior quality to show through, handing them another 1-0 win.