Not only will Thursday’s Copa del Rey game be Real Madrid’s first at the Santiago Bernabeu, but it’ll also be their first truly competitive matchup.
Real Madrid have made it to the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, and they are preparing for their first challenging match of the competition. Their past two opponents were Unionistas de Salamanca and Real Zaragoza.
After a great win against Atletico Madrid over the weekend, Real Madrid will need to be in full focus as they aim to make it as far as possible in the Copa del Rey. Therefore, don’t expect Zinedine Zidane to name a weak lineup on the night.
With Thibaut Courtois the starting goalkeeper for Real Madrid in the league and the UEFA Champions League, Alphonse Areola has been given the task to be the starter in the Copa del Rey and he has done quite well so far. However, the game against Real Sociedad will be his first true test in the competition and it will be interesting to see how things go.
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Zinedine Zidane knows that there are some players that need rest but at the same time it’s difficult if he aims to come out with a convincing win on Thursday night. However, I think that the manager won’t have much of a choice and will have to make a couple rotations.
Nacho Fernandez should start on the right in order to give Dani Carvajal much-needed rest. In the center, the partnership of Raphael Varane and Eder Militao should be more than enough to take care of Sociedad’s attacks while Marcelo will probably be our starting left-back.
He’ll need to improve drastically from his recent performances or else the opponents will take advantage of any mistakes the Brazilian makes.
The midfielders on the night will probably be the strongest suite that Zidane will play. Carlos Casemiro is expected to start as Toni Kroos will be the man in front of him. Kroos was taken off after only 45 minutes in the game against Atletico Madrid so he’ll be more than fit enough to play against Sociedad on Thursday night.
Next to Kroos, I expect that we’ll see James Rodriguez as he aims to reach full fitness and prove that he still has something to give this team.
Against a very determined Real Sociedad side, Real Madrid’s forwards will need to be clinical and that’s why a player such as Rodrygo Goes will be needed on the right flank. It’s true that his form fluctuates quite a bit but when he’s at his best, he can cause havoc with the ball at his feet and that is a fear that is needed in this game.
As for the left flank, I think we’ll see Vinicius Junior start after a brilliant second half performance against Atletico Madrid from the Brazilian.
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In attack though, I know that many will expect Luka Jovic to start but I have a feeling Karim Benzema will be the chosen one with the Serbian striker coming in during the second half. This all depends on whether Zidane will want to take a risk or try playing it slightly safely on the night. Jovic is still struggling to find form while it seems like Benzema finally re-found his form.