Fresh from sacking Julen Lopetegui, Real Madrid have business on the field to attend to. Sitting ninth in the league, the Meringues desperately need to start picking up points unless they intend on letting Barcelona run away with things.
Usually a home fixture against Real Valladolid would seem like a nice way to get things back on track, but Pucela are red-hot right now. They sit in sixth place in La Liga, and have amassed 13 points out of a possible 15 in their last five league games.
It could be a tough afternoon for Real Madrid. Here’s how interim coach Santiago Solari may set up his team.
1. Goalkeeper & Defence
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – The Belgian has not endured a good start to life at Madrid. The goals conceded are not necessarily his fault, but they’re not a good look for him. Wonder how he feels about the rumoured reunion with Antonio Conte?
Sergio Reguilón (LB) – With Marcelo, Varane, and Vallejo all out injured, it’s really anyone’s guess as to who’ll make up the backline. Reguilón is the only natural left back currently fit, so why not him? He started in the win against Melilla midweek.
Nacho Fernandez (CB) He’s been shuffled about all along the backline this season, but it seems he’ll partner Ramos in the centre back position. Everyone else is out injured, so Solari won’t have much choice unless he mixes things up drastically.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – His performances of late have be laughable.
Álvaro Odriozola (RB) – He managed a goal and assist midweek in the Copa del Rey. With injures and a good performance to help, Odriozola should start.
Casemiro (CM) – The Brazilian enforcer was one of the first to admit his team’s poor performance against Barcelona wasn’t the only time they’ve underperformed this season. He’ll hope to restore the usual order of things on Saturday.
Toni Kroos (CM) – He’s usually so good at controlling games. Against Barcelona, he was part of a team that looked like they wouldn’t be able to control a dog on a leash locked in a cage.
Luka Modric (CM) – Calls for Modric to win his first Ballon d’Or this year seemed to be justified heading into the season. But with the way he and his team have played in the opening stages of this term, you do wonder if those calls may start to come a little less frequently.
Isco (LW) – He’s got one goal and one assist in the league so far. When you’re part of an attacking line trying to replace the 50+ goals Ronaldo contributed to season after season, those stats currently aren’t helping much.
Karim Benzema (ST) – He’ll start because that’s just what he does. He won’t guarantee you goals, but he will give you minutes on the field, doing stuff…sometimes…maybe…
Gareth Bale (RW) – It’s really got to be now or never for Bale at Madrid, doesn’t it? Ronaldo is gone and everyone else is playing terribly. It’s time to take this club by the scruff of the neck and finally become the player everyone wants to see the Welshman be in Spain.