Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is being very cautious with forward Eden Hazard. The Belgian star has not featured since late November when he fractured his ankle against PSG and despite returning to training last week, he will miss the Copa del Rey match tomorrow as well.
Although Zidane has won every trophy possible other than the Copa del Rey, the Real Madrid boss will again take an undermanned squad into battle on Thursday night in the Santiago Bernabéu.
As has been the case all season, Marco Asensio remains on the mend while Eden Hazard – who was expected to be at least named to the squad for this match – was left out.
Sadly, we will have to wait until Sunday when Los Blancos travel to Osasuna to see Hazard back on the pitch. I say this with a bit of skepticism as the club is playing it very safe with the big signing from the summer.
The ultimate goal is to have Eden Hazard back to 100 percent health and fitness ahead of the Champions League knockout stage tie with Manchester City, so, he still has about three weeks to prepare.
Also missing from the 19-man squad are Dani Carvajal who is still dealing with a slight knock he picked up in the win over Atletico, Gareth Bale who is still struggling with the ankle injury he suffered two weeks ago against Unionistas de Salamanca, and CDM Casemiro who is ill.
The biggest concerns from this squad list are of course the absences of Casemiro and Carvajal. Since Alvaro Odriozola has departed on loan for the remainder of the season and is with Bayern, the only true back-up fullback is Nacho Fernandez.
Zizou could elect to start Ferland Mendy on the right flank if he so chooses since the French defender has experience playing there and deploy Marcelo to his usual left flank.
Replacing Casemiro is a bit trickier. Fede Valverde has been tasked with occupying the middle of the park at times in the Brazilian’s absence, but someone like Luka Modric or Toni Kroos could be used as the deep-lying midfielder in this match to help build up the attack.
Though Real Madrid defeated Real Sociedad 3-1 in La Liga earlier this season, La Real are not a team to be taken lightly. With Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard playing well, Willian Jose always a threat to score, and the young Alexander Isak picking up form, this will be a difficult quarterfinal clash.