Real Madrid’s victory over FC Barcelona in last weekend’s El Clásico may have reignited the side’s hopes of a late title challenge. Nevertheless, Los Blancos trail Luis Enrique’s men by seven points (eight effectively due to head-to-head) with only seven games remaining, and so a miracle would be required if Real Madrid are to win Spain’s most coveted trophy this year.
This past week has been one of extremes for Zidane’s men, who arguably played their best match of the season at the Camp Nou and their worst at the Volkswagen Arena. Despite an abundance of criticism following Madrid’s Champions League exploits, the side have won their last five matches in the league and look set to cruise to a win against Jose Luis Mendilibar's ninth-placed outfit.
At home, the Whites have been a fortress this season, winning 13 out of their 15 La Liga matches and scoring an astonishing 60 goals in the process. Their last match at home was against the seventh-placed Sevilla, whom they thrashed 4-0 in what was one of their finest and most compact displays of the season. Needing a win to boost morale ahead of what may just be Zidane’s managerial career deciding match against Wolfsburg at the Bernabéu, Los Blancos are pipped to secure all three points.
As the top scorer in La Liga with 29 goals, Cristiano Ronaldo will be keen to return to scoring ways after having been criticized for a lacklustre performance mid-week in the UCL. Gareth Bale, on the other hand, continues to show signs of his best form and has provided some truly encouraging displays over the past few matches.
Eibar meanwhile have not won a game since Valentine’s Day (a 2-0 home win against Levante), and are unlikely to turn that around against an impregnable Madrid side at home. Yet, it must be said that all of Eibar’s losses since then have come at the hands of top sides (Barcelona, Sevilla, Villareal, the on-form Las Palmas, Celta Vigo).
The Basque side, initially predicted to scuffle their way throughout the season, have surprised many and are now 10 points clear of the relegation zone. Borja Baston, Eibar’s star loanee, has netted 17 times in La Liga and would surely be happy to score against his parent club’s (Atletico de Madrid) fierce rivals.
Without the services of Sergio Ramos (suspended after picking up a red against Barcelona) and Raphael Varane (calf problem), Zidane will be left with few options in central defense. Additionally, Karim Benzema will miss out after picking up a slight knock against Wolfsburg, while Keylor and Modrić will be rested. As regards Eibar, only Jaime Jimenez and Borja Ekiza remain on the sidelines.
A home match against Eibar will be exactly what Real Madrid will be craving after their mid-week UCL disappointment. Despite an expected makeshift Madrid starting XI, expect Los Blancos to comfortably stroll past the Basque minnows in this Saturday’s showdown.
Real Madrid possible lineup: Casilla; Carvajal, Pepe, Nacho, Marcelo; Kroos, Kovačić, Isco; Jese, Ronaldo, Bale
Eibar possible lineup: Riesgo; Junca, Pantic, Dos Santos, Capa; Escalante, Garcia; Inui, Jota, Keko; Baston
Managing Madrid staff predictions:
- Om – Real Madrid 3 – 0 Eibar
- Andrejs – Real Madrid 3 – 0 Eibar
- Kiyan – Real Madrid 4 – 0 Eibar
- Nate – Real Madrid 4 – 0 Eibar