The international break is like a cicada population. It comes sweeping across a great expanse, and while its stay is temporary, the wreckage it leaves behind is often devastating. And when it does leave, you know that before long, it’ll be back. But more than anything, it’s just plain annoying.
Thankfully it's over for now, and Real Madrid has slipped through unscathed, despite having 14 players out on international duty. If anything, the squad’s gotten healthier! Cristiano Ronaldo will reportedly play this Sunday, and Zidane said, “Karim (Benzema) is as ready as he’s ever been.”
So, Osasuna. An old club from Pamplona who have spent their existence ping-ponging between the Primera and Segunda divisions. Though, since the 80’s they’ve presided primarily in La Liga, and they’re back after a two-year spell in the Liga Adelante.
But truthfully, Osasuna were perhaps more lucky than good last season. On the final match day of the Segunda season, they needed to win their game and get help in order to secure the last playoff position on a tiebreaker. Everything fell their way, they won all their following playoff matches, and boom, back in La Liga!
So far, Osasuna have looked the part of a team who overachieved last season. They’ve struggled to create chances, and are banking on EPL outcasts Emmanuel Rivière and Fran Mérida to remedy that. Captain Miguel Flaño leads the back line, as he has the last 12 years, and he’ll have two defenders on either side of him in Osasuna’s 5-3-2, including his twin brother, Javier.
Missing from Madrid’s squad list are Casemiro, James, and Marcelo (rest), as well as Keylor Navas and Isco (injury). Osasuna are the weakest team Madrid have yet faced this season, so the likes of Mateo Kovačić, Lucas Vázquez, and Nacho will likely see the pitch. A Modrić-Kroos-Kovačić midfield is something we’ve never seen before, and it’ll be exciting to see how they do.
Real Madrid are actually staring down an enviable Liga schedule through September (Eduardo Alvarez wrote an interesting piece on this for ESPNFC). Barcelona and Atléti will enjoy pummeling one another in a few weeks, and Atlético are still winless in La Liga this season.
Madrid will look to handily bury Osasuna to put the onus on Barcelona and Las Palmas to keep pace later in the afternoon. For Real, this is a chance to get back up to speed ahead of Thursday’s Champions League match against Sporting.
Saturday, 10 September 2016 at 10:00AM EST.
Real Madrid: Kiko Casilla; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho; Kovačić, Kroos, Modrić; Bale, Morata, Ronaldo
Osasuna: Nauzet; Clerc, Unai García, Miguel Flaño, David García, Javier Flaño; Oier, Mérida, Cuevas; Romero, Riera
This season, the MM staff will be keeping a running tally of who lands the most accurate predictions over the length of the season. Scoring will be: 1 point for guessing the correct result, 2 points for the correct scoreline, and 3 points for correct goal-scorers. Feel free to guess and follow along in the comments below!