Real Madrid will be hoping to extend their winning run when they travel to the Basque country to take on Eibar at the Ipurua on Saturday.
La Liga football resumes this week with Matchday 13 of the 2019-20 season, the final weekend of fixtures ahead of the international break. Real Madrid will have the chance to leap up to the top of the table when Eibar play hosts to them at the Ipurua Municipal Stadium on Saturday.
Eibar have shown signs of recovery after a poor start to the season, wherein they had managed just one win from their first six league games. Los Armeros have been victorious in each of their last two games, which has helped them recover up to 14th in the La Liga standings.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, seem to be gradually starting to back the results with convincing performances, the latest exhibition of which came in the form of a 6-0 mauling of Galatasaray in the Champions League. As far as La Liga is concerned, Los Blancos have won just one of their last three fixtures, which has seen them drop below table toppers Barcelona on goal difference.
The corresponding fixture last season had ended in a convincing 3-0 win for Eibar, with Gonzalo Escalante, Sergi Enrich and Kike on target for the Basque outfit. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the La Liga encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jose Luis Mendilibar does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Real Madrid. On Saturday, the Eibar manager will continue to remain without three first-team players, the chief of which will be club captain Ivan Ramis.
The veteran defender is recovering from a hamstring injury and will play no part when Real Madrid pay Eibar a visit. In his stead, Anaitz Arbilla and Paulo Oliveira will form the central defensive partnership for Eibar once again.
Apart from Ramis, Roberto Correa (ankle) and Sergio Alvarez (unspecified) are also sidelined with their respective injuries. In Correa’s absence, Pablo de Blasis will line up on the right side of the Eibar defence, with Cote starting on the opposite flank. Marko Dmitrovic will take his place in goal for the hosts.
Pape Diop and Gonzalo Escalante will combine in the middle of the park, with veteran midfielder Diop reprising the holding midfield role. Escalante, on the other hand, will be charged with driving Eibar forward whilst also breaking up play high up. Takashi Inui and Fabian Orellana will provide the creative thrust from the wide areas.
Orellana will bring the X-Factor from the right flank, with his pace making him a tricky prospect. Charles and Kike will form the strike partnership for Eibar, with the latter playing off the veteran striker.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Dmitrovic; de Blasis, Oliveira, Arbilla, Cote; Orellana, Diop, Escalante, Inui; Kike, Charles
Zinedine Zidane has plenty of fitness troubles hampering preparations for his side’s trip this weekend to the Basque country. Against Eibar on Saturday, the Real Madrid boss will be without as many as five first-team players, with Marcelo a fresh absentee.
The Brazilian left-back picked up a leg injury in the thrashing of Galatasaray and has been ruled out for the game against Eibar. In his absence, Ferland Mendy becomes a certain starter on the left side of the Real Madrid defence.
The rest of the defensive line is set to remain unchanged, with Dani Carvajal starting on the opposite flank, while Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos will partner up as the two centre-backs. Behind the defence, there is no replacing Thibaut Courtois in the Real Madrid goal, with the Belgian starting to regain confidence.
Meanwhile, the likes of Nacho (knee), James Rodriguez (muscular injury), Marco Asensio (knee) and Gareth Bale (calf) all remain sidelined for the foreseeable future. Up ahead in midfield, Luka Modric is expected to return, coming into the side in place of Federico Valverde. Toni Kroos and Casemiro will keep hold of their places.
The attack is unlikely to be tinkered with, especially with Rodrygo growing in stature with each passing game. The Brazilian prodigy scored a perfect hat-trick in the win over Galatasaray and should keep hold of his place. Karim Benzema will once again be the central striker, with Eden Hazard starting on the left side of the Real Madrid attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Hazard
- Real Madrid have been on the losing end of a result just once in their 10 matches against Eibar in La Liga (W8 D1), although that defeat came in their last trip to the Ipurua in the competition (0-3 in Novermber 2018).
- Real Madrid have lost four of their last seven matches against Basque sides in La Liga (W3), as many as in their previous 64 against them in the top-flight (W52 D8 L4).
- Eibar have won their last two matches in La Liga, both by the same scoreline (2-1). The last time they won three games in a row in the competition was between December 2017 and January 2018 (also three).
- Since Zinedine Zidane’s return, Real Madrid have only won two of their 10 away games in La Liga (D4 L4), compared to his first 10 matches in charge on the road in which he won eight (W8 D2).
- Fabian Orellana has been directly involved in five of Eibar’s last six goals in La Liga (three goals and two assists). The Chilean has recorded his best seasonal goal tally for Eibar (four goals), surpassing each of his last two (three in each).
Player to Watch
Modric has endured a difficult 18 months since the FIFA World Cup final last year. While he has still shown flashes of his creative brilliance, the mobility is nowhere to be seen and he is moving the ball forward much slower. And, the emergence of Federico Valverde is threatening to usurp the veteran Croat.
Set to start against Eibar, Modric will have a chance to make things right and a convincing showing could go a long way in extending his stay as a regular for Real Madrid. At a crossroads in his career, this is crunch time for Modric.
Eibar 0-2 Real Madrid
Eibar are threatening to begin a hot streak, but Real Madrid, themselves, are coming off a big win in the Champions League and will be carrying a lot of confidence into this game. Thibaut Courtois, in particular, is regaining some of his lost self-belief, which is proving to be crucial at the back for Los Blancos.
At the other end, there is no stopping Karim Benzema, while there is a new kid on the block in Rodrygo Goes. Expect the duo and Eden Hazard to impress once again, setting up a comfortable win for the visitors. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Zinedine Zidane & co. in a result that temporarily sends them to the top of the table.