It was incredibly frustrating that Real Madrid’s fixture at Celta Vigo was called off on Sunday, though nobody could help the damage caused by extreme weather.
It offered the chance for Real to maintain the momentum they had garnered since their defeat at the hands of Sevilla, and also a chance to “set the record straight”, after Celta eliminated Los Merengues from the Copa del Rey towards the end of January.
Real had brushed that aforementioned defeat at the Ramon Sanchez Pijuain by defeating Malaga 2-1, and then brushing Real Sociedad aside 3-0, consecutively.
And now they have a stacked schedule before the end of February, starting with Osasuna away this Saturday. Without wanting to jinx it, Real are unbeaten in nine matches against the Navarrans, and should extend that record to 10.
With a number of injuries to players still, Zinedine Zidane needs to carefully consider the usage of his players. As Gerry mentioned “Match postponements can be blessings in disguise”. And allowing Luka Modric a week’s extra rest is invaluable. Modric was close to returning on Sunday, but it would have been a big gamble by Zidane.
This, in particular, is troubling as the Champions League also resumes on Wednesday 15 February. But Real Madrid benefit from the first tie being at home, before then hosting Espanyol at Santiago Bernabeu three days later.
Real then play twice further on 22 and 26 February, both away to Valencia and Villarreal, respectively, meaning they will have played five times in 15 days.
Villarreal will undoubtedly be a tough way to bookend this run. Although Valencia are really struggling, I still anticipate a tough encounter.
There is good news for Real, too. Dani Carvajal returned to the group training session today, and Gareth Bale continued his recovery program with a combination of indoor work and some exercises out on the pitch.
Marcelo was expected to be out for around a month (from approximately 23 January), but was caught on film scoring this peach with his right foot in training today.
Though Nacho has been a great auxiliary wing back, and Danilo has even deputized well in the Brazilian and Spaniard’s absences, the return of Marcelo and Carvajal will be a big boost to the Whites.
I wrote a while back on whether Karim Benzema or Alvaro Morata should be starting up front, and there have been more calls in recent weeks for Morata to get the opportunity now. I’m a big fan of both, but would like to see Morata given that chance in the next few weeks.
Rumours of his growing discontent are hopefully just that, because he has a big part to play now, and in the future of Real Madrid.
Real Madrid are in a commanding position in La Liga at present, but the next two weeks will tell us all we need to know about Zidane’s men.