Real Madrid will get the Supercopa de Espana journey underway with a semi-final clash-up with La Liga heavyweight, Athletic Bilbao. The two sides will battle it out at the neutral venue of La Rosaleda Stadium in the city of Malaga.
Despite the shaky run of form recently, Real Madrid are one of the favourites to win this title with the other competing sides being Barcelona, Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao. Zidane’s men will be keen on defending the trophy which his side won in Saudi Arabia last season.
The French gaffer will be missing a few key names for this intense fixture in the form of Dani Carvajal, Luka Jovic and Rodrygo. Dani Carvajal missed Real’s draw on the weekend due to a suspension and has now picked up a niggle in his muscle. It is expected that the duo will be able to join the rest of the squad ahead of 17th January Final if Los Blancos are able to make it past Atheltic Club.
The team selection on Thursday evening could also be influenced by the fact that the Whites have flown directly to Malaga from Pamplona. Real Madrid were unable to fly to Madrid post their game against Osasuna because of the troublesome weather conditions. Here’s how Real could take to the field at the Rosaleda Stadium –
Thibaut Courtois will take command in goal for the Whites against the Basque side. The Belgian has been in stunning form this season and will be seeking to make it three clean sheets in a row when he takes to the field in midweek. The right-back spot will be occupied by Lucas Vasquez with Carvajal missing from the squad altogether.
The centre back pairing will certainly be Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos for a fixture of this magnitude. The duo is ever reliant and will keep the Athletic attack away from Madrid’s goal. In recent weeks Ramos has really upped his game and it is impressive to see that sort of dedication coming out of a 34-year-old defender. Zidane will be put in a tough spot for the left-back position with Ferland Mendy also not performing up to the mark in recent weeks. However, it seems like Mendy will be given the nod over Marcelo in the end.
Federico Valverde will start on the right-hand side of the midfield. The Uruguayan youngster will be given the green light for this fixture ahead of Luka Modric. Zidane will certainly consider resting the 35-year-old Croatian wizard with the big final within a couple of days time from this fixture. Casemiro will undoubtedly start in midfield with the sort of importance he carries in the side. The Brazilian acts as a constant firewall standing ahead of the Madrid back-line. The third and final spot in midfield will be secured by Toni Kroos. The German is the think tank and brain of this Real Madrid side under Zinedine Zidane. Kroos will seek to exploit the spaces in the Athletic Bilbao midfield as seen against Barcelona.
Marco Asensio will start on the right-hand side following a string of vibrant performances in recent matches. Asensio was clinical against Celta Vigo and ensured Real’s victory with a goal and assist to his credit. Karim Benzema will want to head onto the Rosaleda pitch with his ideal striking boots on. The Frenchman has let his foot off the pedal in the past couple of games and will be wanting to make a pacey return to the score-sheet. The last position up for grabs will be taken by Eden Hazard who recently celebrated his 30th Birthday. It seems like it’s high time that the Belgian starts to deliver on the promise he showed while at Stamford Bridge. There seems to be a few positives here and there surrounding Hazard but it certainly needs to grow into something more substantial.
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