Real Madrid will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways when they travel to Estadio El Alcoraz to take on SD Huesca this weekend in La Liga.
Reigning champions Real Madrid will be hoping to produce a strong reaction after a disappointing result last time out when they face off against bottom-feeders SD Huesca at Estadio El Alcoraz in Matchweek 22 of the 2020/21 La Liga.
The defence of the title hasn’t gone according to plans for Zinedine Zidane & co. as they find themselves in the third place in the table, ten points off of leaders Atletico Madrid, who also have a game in hand. Real Madrid have won just one of their last five games in all competitions, with their latest game ending in a 2-1 defeat to Levante. They will be hoping to return to winning ways on Saturday.
Huesca, meanwhile, remain rooted to the bottom of the La Liga standings, having won just two of their 21 games up until this point. However, things may be taking a turn for the better under new manager Pacheta, as they are unbeaten in their last two matches, beating Real Valladolid 3-1 most recently. With Real Madrid not at their best, the Azulgranas will be aiming to capitalise on their plight.
The reverse fixture, played in October last year, saw Real Madrid beat Huesca 4-1 with goals coming from Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema (2) and Federico Valverde. Ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Manager Pacheta will be boosted by the return of Juan Carlos Real, who has recovered from coronavirus while new signing Denis Vavro will also be at his disposal for Saturday’s game. However, Sandro Ramirez, Pedro Mosquera remain out with injuries while Pablo Insua will also be unavailable after testing positive for Covid-19.
The new manager has preferred to set his team up in a 3-5-2 formation since taking over last month and is likely to stick with a similar shape when Real Madrid come visiting. Alvaro Fernandez will be the man in goal for Huesca, where he will be shielded by the three-man defensive unit of Jorge Pulido, Dimitrios Siovas and Gaston Silva.
The two wing-backs, Pablo Maffeo and Javi Galan are likely to play closer to the centre-backs, essentially making it a five-man backline when the visitors are in possession. However, they will also be the primary source of width going forward in this system, when the Azulgranas do attack.
Idrissa Doumbia will be the disrupter in the middle of the park with support coming from Jaime Seoane and Mikel Rico as they look to negate the influence of the likes of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. Rafa Mir, who scored a match-winning hat-trick against Real Valladolid last time out ought to pair up with Shinji Okazaki once again in attack.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Fernandez; Pulido, Siovas, Silva; Maffeo, Seoane, Doumbia, Rico, Galan; Okazaki, Mir
Real Madrid will have to make do without Eden Hazard as the Belgian has fallen prey to another muscle injury. Apart from him, the Merengues will also be without Federico Valverde, Dani Carvajal, Rodrygo Goes and Lucas Vazquez for the clash. In addition, Eder Militao is suspended after his sending off against Levante last time out.
Captain Sergio Ramos has not been included in the 17-man squad for the trip either. However, there is some good news for Los Blancos as Nacho is back in contention after missing the last game having tested positive for coronavirus.
🚨 Substitution in the Real Madrid physio room 🚨
⬅️ Gareth Bale
➡️ Eden Hazard
(🎨 – @ZEZO_CARTOONS)
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) February 4, 2021
The reigning champions will set up in their trademark 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Raphael Varane and the returning Nacho ought to shield the Belgian’s goal with support coming from the two full-backs in Alvaro Odriozola and Ferland Mendy, who will also need to provide an outlet on their respective flanks while attacking.
Casemiro ought to sit the deepest in the middle of the park for Real Madrid where he will be tasked with breaking up play and initiating quick transitions. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are certainties in midfield for the Spanish capital club with the duo acting as their primary chance-creators.
With no Rodrygo, Hazard and Vazquez, Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior become automatic picks in the wide areas for Real Madrid while Karim Benzema is the obvious choice as the centre-forward.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Odriozola, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
- Real Madrid are undefeated in fifteen of their last sixteen away games in La Liga (W10 D5 L1), with the only defeat coming to Valencia last November.
- Huesca have played three La Liga games against Real Madrid till date and have lost all of those – their worst 100% loss rate against an opponent in the top-flight.
- No team has conceded more penalties in La Liga this season than Real Madrid (7, level with Real Betis).
- Huesca have failed to score in their last three home matches in La Liga.
- 50% of the goals that Real Madrid have conceded in La Liga this term have come from set-piece situations (9/18).
Player to Watch
Time and again when Real Madrid have found themselves in difficult situations, Karim Benzema has risen to the occasion to dig them out of the trenches. And, heading into Saturday’s game, the Frenchman will once again need to step up and make a difference if his team are to stay relevant in the race for the La Liga title.
The 33-year-old has endured a bit of a dry run in front of goal of late, having scored just twice in his last five La Liga matches, failing to net in four of those appearances. Against Levante last weekend, the veteran forward put in an underwhelming display.
With Eden Hazard ruled out of the contest, there will be even more responsibility on Benzema to come good. It does bode well for Real Madrid that he has a good record against Huesca, having scored three and set up two more in his last two appearances against the minnows.
Huesca 1-2 Real Madrid
Huesca, seem to be making some progress under new manager Pacheta, as they picked up just their second win of the season in the last round of fixtures. However, a game against Real Madrid, even though the champions haven’t been playing at their best, is a daunting prospect for the bottom-feeders.
The hosts have scored just 17 goals so far this season and Real Madrid should be able to cope with any threat they pose, while the likes of Karim Benzema will be motivated to make a difference at the other end. The Hard Tackle, to that end, is predicting Los Blancos to grab a much-needed win on Saturday at Estadio El Alcoraz.