Real Madrid are on the road again Wednesday to face Leganes, the club who eliminated Los Blancos last month on away goals in the Copa Del Rey quarter-final. Real is coming off a 5-3 win after visiting Seville and defeating Real Betis.
Real still sit 4th in the La Liga table, but are only a point behind Valencia for 3rd now. Meanwhile, Leganes is sitting 13th in the standings and are coming off a 3-0 loss to Girona last Friday.
The goal of finishing in a top 4 spot is becoming more of a reality as Real could take 3rd from Valencia and are leading 5th place Sevilla by 6 points now. They are still 10 points behind Atletico for 2nd, so that may not be a realistic finishing spot.
Los Blancos are also scoring much more, scoring 15 goals across all competitions so far this month. Things certainly seem to be trending upwards for Real lately performance-wise (until we get to the injury list).
Remember when I was raving about how Real’s injury list was pretty bare a couple weeks ago? That’s changed. Real have been dealt three major injury blows that may affect their 2nd leg Champions League match against PSG on March 6th.
The first is Marcelo, who completely dominated against PSG last week. He hobbled off the pitch against Betis on Sunday with a hamstring injury. While he’s questionable for the PSG bout, he certainly will not be playing against Leganes on Wednesday.
Luka Modric is also out with a leg muscle injury. He has no timetable for return, which makes him questionable for the PSG match and out for Wednesday’s match.
The final injury is Toni Kroos, who is out with a sprained knee that he sustained after the PSG 1st leg match last week. Again, no timetable for his return and he is questionable for the 2nd leg and out against Leganes.
While these injuries may not be too serious in the long-run, the pressure is on as all three a really needed to be back in two weeks for the Champions League match in Paris. So, these injuries could come at a good time or a really bad time.
No official rosters have been released by either side at the time of writing this, but the starting XIs could look something like these:
Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Theo; Vasquez, Casemiro, Isco, Asensio; Bale, Benzema
With Marcelo out, Theo Hernandez will take his place at left back. The rest of the lineup could see Zidane try several variations. It’s likely Zidane will try four in the midfield with Modric and Kroos out. This gives Real the 4-4-2 formation for this match. Vasquez will likely start as well as Casemiro. Isco, who’s played great as of late should also be given a start. Asensio will also likely start after having a sensational performance against Betis on Sunday. Kovacic could also be an option to start, but I think Isco will get the nod over him.
Another question is the forward positions. Bale will most likely start in any situation, but Zidane hinted he may rest Ronaldo for this match. If he chooses to, Bale and Benzema will start up top. If Ronaldo does start, however, he’ll most likely be paired with Bale. This is a match where Cristiano really doesn’t need to start, so I can see him sitting for this one to prevent any further injuries.
Cuellar; Tito, Bustinza, Siovas, Salguero; Brasanac, Pires; El Zhar, Goni, Amrabat; Beauvue
1-3 Leganes-Real Madrid
Real has been scoring a lot this month, so this trend could likely continue. With Kroos, Modric, and Marcelo (and perhaps a resting Ronaldo) all out for this match, it will be harder to gauge how well Real will actually play on Wednesday. Their scoring would seemingly drop with these 3 or 4 key players out.
Truthfully, Real should win this match even with some of their important starters out. Real do seem to struggle against lesser competition from time to time, though. It’s important for the starting squad, whichever form it takes, to remain motivated and continue collecting 3 points. And with the disappointment of getting kicked out of the Copa Del Rey, Real should be anxious to give some payback to Leganes.
With a win, Real moves 2 points ahead of Valencia and take third place, no pressure.