Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by Villarreal in La Liga saw Real Madrid slip 19 points behind Barcelona at the top of the table and lead to the word “crisis” being used freely by the local press.
Never before have Los Blancos been so far behind their eternal rivals and with their league title seemingly relinquished already, Zinedine Zidane’s men will now place considerably greater significance on the Copa del Rey.
Their opponents on Thursday evening are a Leganes side who had never previously reached this stage of the competition, with Asier Garitano’s team having knocked out Villarreal in the previous round to make it through to the last eight.
This is a tie that Real Madrid simply cannot afford to lose and in both previous rounds of the Copa, Los Blancos have won convincingly away from home before seeing lower league opposition hold them to a draw at the Bernabeu.
Another good first leg victory would be the ideal way to attempt to kick-start Madrid’s recovery and dabblebet price them at 4/11 (1.44), while Leganes are offered at 7/1 (8.00) and the draw can be backed at 15/4 (4.75).
Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos have both been training with the group this week although neither is likely to be risked on Thursday evening, whilst Keylor Navas will be rested in goal for Kiko Casilla.
Leganes, meanwhile, will be without first choice centre-back Mauro Dos Santos, who picked up an injury in Monday’s 3-2 league defeat at Real Betis.
Hosts to keep things tight once more
Leganes’ relative success so far this term has been based on rigorous defensive work, and manager Garitano is obsessive when it comes to the defensive positioning of his players.
They were caught out on Monday evening at Betis, yet generally they have been extremely tough to break down and their total of 17 goals conceded is the third lowest in La Liga.
At the other end is where they have really struggled, though, and 13 goals in 17 league games tells its own story, although Garitano will know that 0-0 against Madrid is an excellent result.
Los Blancos have been almost inexplicably poor in the final third and their lack of clinical finishing is a big reason why they find themselves in such a challenging predicament in La Liga.
Tips and predictions
With neither side in particularly inspiring attacking form and Leganes likely to set up in highly defensive fashion, opposing a high scoring game makes sense and the price of 23/20 (2.15) for under 2.5 goals looks appealing.
Under 2.5 goals at 23/20 (2.15) for a 2pt stake with dabblebet