Things aren't looking well for Asier Illarramendi, especially after he was left on the bench during Real's 2-0 loss against Celta de Vigo. In that match, Ancelotti started Khedira, Casemiro, Alonso and Modric all and his only midfielder on the bench was Illarramendi, the man who needs more minutes to gain that necessary confidence back.
We ask Abel Rojas, knowledgeable and insightful on Spanish football. We pretty much runs Ecos del Balón by himself and we're lucky to consider him a friend of the site.
Q: What will be Ancelotti's choice, in your opinion? Why?
Abel Rojas: "It's very likely that Ancelotti's final decision depends on the last conversation that he has with Illarramendi. Tactically speaking, the Basque is a far more appropriate choice than any other, and that's mainly because his task will be that one that he was signed for: replacing Xabi Alonso. In terms of position with his teammates, ability to take care of the first pass and also his defensive behavior, without being a Xabi Alonso-clone, he's the closest one Real Madrid can one and the only specific DM Real Madrid will have available. His lack of experience and his recent games -something that should also be related to the team's bad performance although it affected him more- might have decreased Ancelotti's trust on him, but if the Italian coach feels the kid is psychologically ready, it's hard to think of another choice. In case Illarramendi is not able to play, Khedira is the name that first comes to mind. The German player is better than Illarramendi today, but he lacks the rhythm and more importantly, his presence as a DM would unbalance Real's 4-3-3, a formation that allows the team to keep the ball better. Khedira would almost force his team to play 4-4-2 with him and Modric in the center, and if we consider that Atlético will likely give the ball to los blancos, that could be a very serious problem for the club of the nine European Cups. Furthermore, when Alonso was injured, the Modric-Khedira pair didn't have a single noteworthy match".