Real Madrid will be aiming to keep up the pressure on leaders Atletico Madrid when they take on CA Osasuna in the 2020/21 La Liga this weekend.

As the race for the 2020/21 La Liga title hots up, reigning champions Real Madrid will be hoping to stay in touch with leaders Atletico Madrid when they welcome Osasuna at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Saturday night.

Real Madrid dropped crucial points last time out as they were held to a goalless draw by Real Betis. Given as Atletico Madrid lost their game against Athletic Bilbao, Zinedine Zidane’s side could have gone to the top of the table but missed the chance. Now they head into the weekend clash with a two-point deficit, which could widen to five by the time they kick off as Atleti play Elche earlier on Saturday.

There has been a slight drop-off in form from Los Blancos of late, as they have drawn four of their last five fixtures in all competitions, including their most recent fixture against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg. Manager Zidane will be hoping to get back to winning ways this weekend as Barcelona and Sevilla breath down their necks from third and fourth places in the table, respectively.

Osasuna, meanwhile, saw a six-game unbeaten run – that included wins over Valencia and Villarreal, come to a halt last time out as they were beaten 2-1 by Celta Vigo away from home. Jagoba Arrasate’s side are currently 11th in the league standings and stand a chance of finishing in the top half given as Granada in eighth are just five points clear. A positive result against the champions would be a step in that direction for Los Rojillos.

Osasuna had managed to hold Real Madrid to a goalless draw in the reverse fixture back in January earlier this year and will be hoping to do the same if not better this weekend. Ahead of their latest meeting at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Real Madrid

Real Madrid have been handed another injury blow as right-back Dani Carvajal is potentially ruled out for the rest of the season after having only recently returned from a spell on the sidelines. Captain Sergio Ramos is back in training but hasn’t been included in the squad for the Osasuna clash while Lucas Vazquez, Ferland Mendy and Federico Valverde remain unavailable.

Zinedine Zidane will have an eye on the crucial Champions League clash against Chelsea on his mind when selecting a team for Saturday night. But given the way things are poised in the La Liga title race, it is unlikely that he will make many rotations to the lineup either. Thibaut Courtois is an absolute certainty between the sticks for Real Madrid.

It is likely that they revert to a 4-3-3 setup for Saturday’s clash after having fielded a three-man backline last time out against Chelsea. In that case Nacho will shift out to the left-back slot, with Marcelo dropping out of the lineup. Alvaro Odriozola ought to come in at right-back with Eder Militao and Raphael Varane forming the centre-back partnership.

Both Luka Modric and Toni Kroos looked jaded in the game against Chelsea and could be given a breather on Saturday night. Instead, Antonio Blanco, who impressed on his first start against Cadiz, ought to line up alongside Casemiro and Isco in the centre of the park, with the latter being the primary source of creativity for the home team.

Marco Asensio should be handed a starting berth out on the left flank while Rodrygo Goes gets the nod on the right, with his compatriot Vinicius Junior missing out of the lineup. There is no looking past the in-form Karim Benzema for the centre-forward berth. Eden Hazard will continue to remain an option from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Odriozola, Militao, Varane, Nacho; Blanco, Casemiro, Isco; Rodrygo, Benzema, Asensio

Osasuna

Unlike Real Madrid, Osasuna do not have a host of pressing injury concerns ahead of their trip to the capital. Jagoba Arrasate, though, will have to make do without the services of Ruben Martinez and Jonathan Calleri, who are out with injuries. Much like their weekend’s opponents, Los Rojillos are also expected to set up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Sergio Herrera.

Aridane Hernandez and David Garcia should form the centre-back pairing that will have the unenviable task of keeping Karim Benzema quiet. Nacho Vidal and Manu Sanchez ought to be the two full-backs on the right and left sides respectively, with the duo expected to stay compact and disciplined at the back as the visitors look to frustrate Real Madrid.

Club captain Oier ought to start in the middle of the park alongside Lucas Torro with the duo providing a defensive screen to the backline. The third slot in the centre of the park ought to be taken up by Darko Brasanac, although Javi Martinez is an option in case Arrasate opts for an attacking outlet from the middle.

Ruben Garcia and Roberto Torres ought to be the two wide players on the right and left flanks respectively. They will be the primary source of creativity when Osasuna do break forward and will look to supply chances for striker Ante Budimir.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Herrera; Vidal, Hernandez, Garcia, Sanchez; Oier, Torro, Brasanac; Garcia, Budimir, Torres

Key Stats

  • Real Madrid have won their last 11 home matches against Osasuna in all competitions.
  • After six games without losing (W3 D3), Osasuna fell to a defeat against Celta Vigo last time out. They haven’t lost back-to-back games in the competition since December 2020.
  • Real Madrid are undefeated in their last 13 games in La Liga. They have kept a clean sheet in each of their last three league outings.
  • Osasuna manager Jagoba Arrasate has won only one of his previous eight games against Real Madrid in all competitions (D2 L5).
  • Real Madrid’s Isco has been involved in six goals in his last five La Liga games against Osasuna (3 goals, 3 assists).

Player to Watch

Karim Benzema

Who else, but Real Madrid’s main man Karim Benzema. The Frenchman was the standout player for Los Blancos in their 1-1 draw against Chelsea earlier in the week, scoring a stunning goal that took his tally for the season to 28 goals and 7 assists from 40 games in all competitions.

The 33-year-old has been in red-hot form of late and has been involved in 11 of Real Madrid’s last 13 goals in La Liga (9 goals, 2 assists). His recent record against Osasuna also stands out, with Benzema having scored three goals and an assist in his last three home matches against Los Rojillos. All things point towards another game where the veteran striker will make his presence felt in a big way.

Prediction

Real Madrid 1-0 Osasuna

Osasuna have been in good touch of late, despite the defeat to Celta Vigo last time out. A disciplined defence has been key for them and they have already shown this season that they are more than capable of keeping Real Madrid quiet. The Merengues, meanwhile, are going through a bit of a difficult patch, drawing four in their last five, failing to score in three of those.

So, it is likely to be a closely-contested affair on Saturday, especially with Zinedine Zidane likely to rest a few key players. However, the form that Karim Benzema has been in, the Frenchman could be the difference-maker at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano which is why The Hard Tackle is predicting a narrow victory for the reigning La Liga champions.

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