Real Madrid Starting XI Prediction vs. Athletic Bilbao in Copa del Rey quarterfinals

Real Madrid, Luka Jovic (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Luka Jovic (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Toni Kroos
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

CM Toni Kroos

Yes, I believe Toni Kroos will get the start on the left side of the midfield for Real Madrid. Carlo Ancelotti wants to win the Copa del Rey again, and he knows that getting Kroos in the starting lineup would go a long way to securing a victory at San Mames over the Lions.

Kroos has been tremendous this season with 2.4 key passes per game and about 95 percent of his passes completed. Real Madrid need to secure control in midfield against Atheltic Bilbao and create chances. Kroos provides both. Eduardo Camavinga has been excellent in the Copa del Rey, but Kroos has to start at LCM.

DM Casemiro

Camavinga is actually more likely to start again here than on the left side of the midfield, even though he is more of an 8 than a 6 based on what we have seen lately. That said, Real Madrid need the defensive qualities of Casemiro against the counterattack. He should be able to play despite his duties with Brazil, as Tite is going to let him rest against Paraguay before Casemiro makes his trip back to Spain for the cup. For Casemiro, the biggest key in matches like this one is ball security.

CM Luka Modric

Fede Valverde, like Eduardo Camavinga, is another valid option to start in midfield in this match, but I think Ancelotti will go all-in with his trusted trio in midfield. He will want to get past a very tough Athletic Bilbao side for a fourth time, and that means starting the standout player of 2022 thus far.

Even when Real Madrid did not play well in January, Luka Modric did. The veteran midfielder, on the verge of another extension with the Royal White club, could be the matchwinner on Thursday night. And it would make more sense to rest him over the weekend in LaLiga against Granada, though, I’d still expect him to start in that one. After all, he loves scoring great goals against Granada.