2013 has not been kind to Real Zaragoza. Manolo Jimenez's men have yet to win a match this calendar year and have gone scoreless the last three games. While Jose Mourinho may rest some Real Madrid starters in preparation for Wednesday's game against Galatasaray, the Special One will undoubtedly demand victory against a team that currently sits at the tail end of the table with only 26 points to their name.
Despite Zaragoza's poor form, Madrid's defenders will have to keep an eye on Portuguese striker Hélder Postiga, who just returned from international break and will immediately face his compatriots Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Fabio Coentrão in La Liga. Madrid's attackers will also have to be sharp and ruthless to get the best of Zaragoza's 6' 4" goalkeeper, Roberto Jimenez Gago.
The biggest question ahead of tomorrow's match is who will Mourinho field as titulares. The manager has called up all the usual suspects with the exception of Iker Casillas and Alvaro Morata. Diego Lopez will surely start in goal since he did not play during the international break, but Alvaro Arbeloa may be rested at right back in favor of Michael Essien. "El Espartano" had his hands full marking Frank Ribéry in Spain's win over France earlier this week, so Mourinho could call on Essien's fresher legs to protect the right side. In today's press conference, assistant coach Aitor Karanka alluded that Coentrão remains questionable for tomorrow's fixture, so Marcelo could start at left-back after an impressive performance in Brazil's friendly draw to Russia on Monday.
Mourinho may also rest Spanish international Xabi Alonso, opting instead for a double pivot with Luka Modric playing the role of distributor and Sami Khedira acting as defensive enforcer.
As we all know, the odds of Cristiano Ronaldo NOT starting the match are pretty slim, so expect to see CR7 on the left-wing with Kaká in the hole and Callejon on the right. If the substitutes are not getting the job done, the Special One could introduce Özil and Di Maria for extra firepower; however both the German and Argentine traveled extensively for international duty and could be preserved for Wednesday.
At striker, Mourinho may choose to play the hot hand and see if he can squeeze some more goals out of Gonzalo Higuain. Pipita scored twice against Venezuela while Karim Benzema failed to find the back of the net in France's two qualifiers.
Managing Madrid, who do you think the Special One should start against Zaragoza tomorrow?
Real Madrid kicks off against Real Zaragoza on Saturday, March 30th at 20:00 CET/ 3:00 pm EST/ 12:00 pm PST.