Real Madrid will be pushing to get back to winning ways when they face off against lower league side CD Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
After what has been quite a disappointing last week, Real Madrid will be aiming to turn things around and start their Copa del Rey journey with a win, when they take on CD Alcoyano at Estadio El Collao in the Round of 32 this midweek.
Alcoyano, who play in the third tier of Spanish football, have enjoyed a fine run in Copa del Rey, beating Laredo 4-1 in the first round before dumping out La Liga side Huesca 2-1 in the previous stage to make it to this stage. Following their goalless draw against Hercules in the league, they are now on a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions, and will be hoping to pull off an upset on Wednesday.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, come into the game on the back of an upsetting week as they lost some ground in the La Liga title race following a goalless draw against Osasuna. This was followed by a disheartening 2-1 defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana semi-final. Under pressure, manager Zinedine Zidane will be hoping that his troops produce a strong reaction in the cup tie.
This will be the first time these two teams will be meeting in the Copa del Rey since the 2012/13 campaign. And ahead of this David vs Goliath clash on Wednesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Alcoyano manager Vicente Parras will have to make do without the services of Manuel Raillo for the game against Real Madrid while Ruben Garces will also be unavailable. On-loan duo Jose Solbes and Jona will be available after missing out the last game against parent club Hercules.
Parras should set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Jose Juan Figueras manning the goal. The Alcoyano goalkeeper will need all the protection he can get from the backline comprising of Jordan Sanchez, Raul Gonzalez, Primi Ferrez and Javi Anton, all of whom will look to sit compact at the back and make spaces hard to find for the visitors.
Captain Jony Niguez, the brother of Atletico Madrid superstar Saul Niguez, ought to start in the midfield double pivot, looking to cut out the threat posed by Real Madrid’s midfield runners. He will have the support of Juanan Casanova, who will also look to push forward during the attacking phases.
Alejandro Camacho and Angel Lopez will carry the threat from the wide areas while Alberto Rubio will look to create openings from the No. 10 slot. Spearheading the attack for the hosts should be Mourad El Ghezouani although Juli is also an option that Parras might consider.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Figueras; Sanchez, Gonzalez, Ferrez, Anton; Casanova, Niguez; Camacho, Rubio, Lopez; El Ghezouani
Zinedine Zidane has seemingly opted to use this game to rest some of his regulars as Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric are all absent from the 20-man squad named by the manager. Martin Odegaard, who would have hoped to get some minutes in the cup tie, also does not make the cut. Dani Carvajal is yet to return to training and misses out for the trip.
Real Madrid are expected to rotate heavily on Wednesday, with some of the fringe players likely to get an opportunity to make a mark against Alcoyano. In goal, Andriy Lunin should come in for first-choice stopper Thibaut Courtois, while Alvaro Odriozola should get a rare start at right-back.
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Veteran defender Marcelo should come in for Ferland Mendy at left-back, giving the Frenchman some deserved rest. His forward forays will be key for Real Madrid, but the Brazilian will need to be wary not get caught out at the back. With no Varane and Ramos, Eder Militao, who is linked with an exit, should start alongside Nacho at centre-back.
Federico Valverde should slot in at the base of the Real Madrid midfield in place of Casemiro and help break up the hosts’ attack and initiate quick transitions. With no Modric, Toni Kroos will be the seniormost member in the middle for the visitors and the onus of dictating the tempo of the game will be on him.
Isco should also get a rare chance in the side, with him occupying the third midfield slot, trying to engineer openings for his teammate. Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior ought to be the two wide men, with Mariano Diaz set to get a chance to spearhead the attack in place of Karim Benzema.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lunin; Odriozola, Militao, Nacho, Marcelo; Isco, Valverde, Kroos; Vazquez, Diaz, Vinicius
- This is the third time that Alcoyano and Real Madrid have been drawn against each other in Copa del Rey. The first time was in the quarter-finals in 1945/46, with the Merengues winning the two-legged tie 4-2 on aggregate. The second time was in the Round of 32 in 2012/13, which Los Blancos won 7-1 on aggregate.
- CD Alcoyano are unbeaten in their last seven matches in all competitions, winning five of those matches. They have kept four clean sheets during this run.
- Real Madrid have won just one of their last four matches in all competitions (D2 L1).
- Alcoyano striker Mourad El Ghezouani has been directly involved in four goals in his two Copa del Rey appearances this season (2G, 2A).
- Real Madrid are the third most successful team in Copa del Rey having lifted the trophy a total of 19 times, a tally only bettered by Barcelona (30) and Athletic Bilbao (23).
Player to Watch
After making a bright start to life at Real Madrid, the Brazilian has failed to kick on as expected and as a result, has fallen down the pecking order under Zinedine Zidane. This season, especially, Vinicius Junior has found regular starts hard to come by. So, when he gets an opportunity on Wednesday, he will need to make the most of it.
With Rodrygo Goes facing a lengthy spell out on the sidelines and Eden Hazard looking a pale shadow of his former self, Vinicius can nail down the spot on the left flank for himself if he manages to string together a run of good performances. And, going up against a third division side provides him the perfect chance to kickstart the run.
Alcoyano 1-3 Real Madrid
Alcoyano have been in fine form in the cup competition and are doing quite well in the league as well. Given the huge occasion on Wednesday, at their home ground no less, the minnows will be motivated and will not make things easy for Real Madrid.
The Merengues are coming on the back of a rough week, but Zinedine Zidane is likely to give some of his regulars a rest in the game. In spite of that, the Spanish capital club boasts plenty of quality and following the recent results, they will be raring to bounce back. The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts a victory for Real Madrid, taking them into the next round.