Real Madrid will be aiming to extend their winning run to five games in all competitions when they lock horns with SD Eibar in La Liga this weekend.
Reigning champions Real Madrid will be hoping to keep up the pace with current La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid when they face off against Eibar at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on Sunday night in matchweek 14.
After a stuttering start to the season, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid seem to be finally hitting their stride as they have picked up four wins in a row in all competitions, most recently defeating Athletic Bilbao 3-1 in midweek. Los Blancos are currently third in the table, three points below neighbours and leaders Atletico Madrid. And a win would allow them to stay in touch with the table-toppers.
Eibar, meanwhile, find themselves in the 13th position on the table, after stringing together a run of five games without a defeat in the league (W1 D4). Jose Luis Mendilibar’s managed to hold second-placed Real Sociedad to a 1-1 draw in their last league game and followed it up with a 2-0 win over Racing Rioja in the first round of Copa del Rey.
The corresponding fixture last season had ended 4-0 in favour of Real Madrid as Karim Benzema led the way with a brace while Sergio Ramos and Federico Valverde also found the back of the net. Ahead of their latest game on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Mendilibar will have to make do without as many as seven first-team players for the game against Real Madrid as defenders Cote, Paulo Oliveira, Rober Correa and Jose Antonio Martinez are all ruled out with injuries along with forwards Sergi Enrich and Quique Gonzalez, while Esteban Burgos is suspended.
The hosts are likely to continue in the manager’s preferred 4-4-2 setup and look to put pressure on the opponents high up the pitch to force turnovers and hit them with speed. Marko Dmitrovic will be manning the goal for Eibar with protection coming from the backline of Alejandro Pozo, Anaitz Arbilla, Pedro Bigas and Kevin Rodrigues.
Veteran star Pape Diop will be tasked with breaking up play in the middle of the park with support coming from Edu Exposito, who will look to provide a box-to-box presence for the hosts.
Former Real Madrid star Pedro Leon scored a brace in the cup tie against Racing Rioja earlier in the week but is likely to make way for Takashi Inui on the right. On-loan teenage sensation Bryan Gil should get the nod on the left flank. These two will look to create chances for the strike partnership of Yoshinori Muto and Kike Garcia.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Dmitrovic; Pozo, Arbilla, Bigas, Rodrigues; Inui, Exposito, Diop, Gil; Muto, Garcia
Unlike his counterpart in the Eibar dugout, Zidane will have to make do without just two players for the trip to Eibar. Eden Hazard trained with the team on Friday but hasn’t been included in the 22-man travelling squad while Vinicius Junior doesn’t make the cut after he missed training due to gastroenteritis.
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Thibaut Courtois is the undisputed starter in goal for Real Madrid, while the centre-back partnership of Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos should be left untouched as well. Dani Carvajal should continue at right-back but Marcelo could come in at left-back to afford Ferland Mendy some rest.
Casemiro, who is back after missing the midweek clash due to suspension, should walk right back into the starting XI, slotting in as the deepest of the three central midfielders. Toni Kroos should once again feature from the get-go but Luka Modric could be given a bit of a breather on Sunday, with Federico Valverde occupying the third slot in the centre.
Lucas Vazquez, who has been linked with Manchester United recently, should continue on the right flank, having been one of Real Madrid’s most consistent performers in recent weeks. With Vinicius and Hazard unavailable, Rodrygo Goes should get the nod on the left, while Karim Benzema spearheads the Merengues’ attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Vazquez, Benzema, Rodrygo
- After three consecutive defeats in their visits to Basque Country in La Liga between October 2018 and May 2019, Real Madrid haven’t lost any of their last five (W4 D1).
- Eibar have only won one of their last 12 La Liga games against Real Madrid (D1 L10), winning 3-0 in November 2018.
- Real Madrid have lost only one of their last 12 away games in La Liga (W8 D3), losing 4-1 against Valencia in November, although they have won only one of their last three (D1 L1).
- Eibar have lost five games against Real Madrid at Ipurua (W1), their joint-most against an opponent at home in the competition (also five against Atletico Madrid and Barcelona).
- Real Madrid have scored the first goal of the game the most times away from home in La Liga this season (6) and only lost one of those games (W4 D1 L1).
Player to Watch
The Frenchman has time and again displayed the knack of stepping up when Real Madrid need him the most and that has been the case once again this term. Just when it looked like Zinedine Zidane’s job could be in jeopardy, Benzema has delivered the goods to turn things around for his manager and the team.
With four goals in his last three matches in all competitions, including a brace against Athletic Bilbao, the Frenchman has taken his tally for the season to 10 goals and 3 assists in 16 matches. Having turned 33 on Saturday, Benzema will be hoping to celebrate the occasion with another match-winning display against Eibar.
Eibar 0-2 Real Madrid
Eibar come into the game on the back of a six-game unbeaten run in all competitions (W2 D4), keeping four clean sheets in the process. However, they will be going up against a Real Madrid side that is finally starting to click after a dodgy beginning to the campaign, winning four in a row and not conceding in three of those fixtures.
With all due respect to Eibar, Real Madrid have picked up victories against superior sides like Atletico Madrid, Borussia Monchengladbach and Athletic Bilbao in recent weeks and have momentum on their side ahead of their trip to Ipurua. The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts another win for Zinedine Zidane’s men on Sunday night.