Off the back of a humiliating Champions League defeat on home soil to half a Shakhtar Donetsk team, Real Madrid need to seriously regroup as it’s none other than Barcelona they face next up.
After falling 3-0 behind against the Ukrainian side, there was a response in the second half from Zinedine Zidane’s side, but not enough to claw back a point at least as they fell to a 3-2 loss.
The first Clasico of the season awaits them on Saturday at Camp Nou, with neither side overly impressing at the beginning of the 2020/21 La Liga season.
Here’s how Madrid should line up to face Barcelona this weekend.
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – Madrid could easily have conceded more than three goals in midweek were it not for the Belgian pulling off a string of fine saves. Likewise, question marks over two of the goals perfectly round off the kind of keeper Courtois is.
Nacho (RB) – More accustomed to a central role, but Mendy is better suited in his own preferred slot on the left, and the added defensive work rate of Nacho will be needed.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – Touch and go to be fit but even if he’s at 25% he’s still streaks better than Eder Militao. Has to play.
Raphael Varane (CB) – Varane is, no doubt, one of the finest central defenders in the world. He is also, no doubt, pretty hopeless without his captain alongside him.
Ferland Mendy (LB) – One of few players in this Madrid defence who did OK against Shakhtar, as Mendy’s link up play down the flanks are among the best we see in Europe.
Luka Modric (CM) – When he’s at the races, there are few better midfielders in the division than Modric, whose eye for the spectacular was on show with his stunning effort in the midweek loss.
Toni Kroos (CM) – The German rarely plays badly. If he’s playing well, that more often than not sees Madrid win matches so, as you’d expect, he was poor against Shakhtar. Hopefully that’s all out of his system now.
Casemiro (CM) – The Brazilian is the steel in this Real Madrid midfield, and Zidane hates playing without him. He won’t play without him.
Marco Asensio (RW) – Needing to win the midfield battle at Camp Nou, Asensio’s comfort in drifting infield will help bulk up the numbers.
Karim Benzema (ST) – Rested for the recent loss, Benzema’s importance to everything Real do in an attacking sense was made evident by their turgid first-half display. He’s also not Luka Jovic, which is a major bonus.
Vinicius Jr (LW) – The link up between himself and Benzema is critical in the way Zidane wants his team to play. Adds pace and trickery in an area where the backup options are hardly inspiring.