Let's be clear right off the bat. Real Madrid has no business dropping points against Getafe on Sunday. There is a substantial gulf in class between these two sides. That gulf should be significant enough to where we'll be talking more about the performance and how it projects for the rest of the season rather than the ultimate result of Sunday's match.
Players available for Ancelotti's setup are as follows:
Diego López, Jesús, Mejías
Pepe, Ramos, Carvajal, Arbeloa, Nacho
Khedira, Bale, Casemiro, Modric, Di María, Illarra
Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Jesé, Morata
If you're a fan of the nice visual squad lists put out by the club, well here you go.
Although Ramos is listed, Carlo Ancelotti's pre-match press conference confirmed that he is not likely to feature. The Spaniard is recovering from some tiredness coming off the Champions League match and is likely to be rested by Ancelotti. Likewise, Iker Casillas is not available after suffering that bruised rib on Tuesday. Fábio Coentrão is also still unavailable, but the manager feels he could be ready for Wednesday's match against Elche.
Injuries are obviously leaving Real Madrid's backline rather thin these days. If Ramos is to be preserved, Nacho will be called upon once again, but alongside Pepe in the centerback position this time. That leaves Arbeloa having to cover at left-back and Carvajal on the right. Obviously not your ideal way to line up defensively, but the match being in the Bernabéu and Getafe not being very efficient in front of goal thus far in the season (4 goals in 4 games) should make things manageable for Madrid's backline.
Putting It All Together
Carlo Ancelotti is looking for an improvement in dictating the play and maneuvering the ball efficiently. That's why I'm looking for Illarramendi, Modric and Isco to man the midfield. It seems the right opportunity for these three to work out some chemistry against a lesser side at home. Getafe's likely double-pivot of Míchel and Lacen will need some creativity to break past. Sami Khedira is available too, of course, and may very well play since Illarramendi is still easing his way into fitness. I suspect Illarra would be preferred, however, given Ancelotti's praise of the player's worth: "Illarra is tactically very good. He has the ability to position himself well and provides balance for the team. He is decisive with the ball."
The frontline should be fairly predictable from Los Merengues. Ronaldo and Benzema will likely be joined by Gareth Bale. The Welshman has yet to play at the Bernabéu, and the cards are right for him to debut as a starter for the home crowd despite not being at his absolute fittest. If his prior appearances are any indication, Madrid's setup will afford him acres of space to work within, which will hopefully pave the way for his first Bernabéu goal. In terms of the pressure he's going to have to manage all year, it would be huge for Bale to get off to a good (goal-scoring) start in his first match at home.
No one's expecting Bale to go a full 90 minutes. I'll be interested to see if Ángel Di María is brought on as a replacement and how he'll fare. All indications are that Di María is happy to fight for a place in the squad and that the club is happy with his attitude given the situation. Will Di María's play on the field mirror those sentiments?
What Else to Look For?
This particular match is full of opportunity. Putting the result aside for a second, I think this match is more about whether Madrid's midfield can find more balance. Can the players regulate the spaces between the lines better (especially the mid and defensive ones)? Against a team of significantly lower quality, can Madrid dictate the pace and style of play? How long can Bale last and can he get on the scoresheet?
On top of that, can some young attackers get some valuable playing time? For that to happen, Madrid has to take care of business and provide the intensity right from the start like Ancelotti wants. Counter-intuitively, the development of Jesé and Morata might be dependent on Benzema doing a good enough job to put matches away early so they can get substitute appearances. Either of them unseating a slumping Benz seems a tad unlikely, rightly or wrongly.
The club's own preview segment entitled "The Match," featuring Sid Lowe and Phil Kitromilides is also worth a watch. Sid's inclusion of Sergio Ramos in his Starting XI came before Ancelotti saying he'd prefer to rest the player.
Let us know your predictions for the match in the comment section, Madridistas!
The match kicks off Sunday at 19:00 CEST / 13:00 EDT / 10:00 PDT
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