Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: 5 players who could start at striker with Karim Benzema injured

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Eden Hazard
Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /

LW Eden Hazard

A left winger by trade, Eden Hazard has had to transition to a more playmaking role with fewer take-on attempts after a series of nagging injuries. The ex-Chelsea superstar has been more lively in one-on-one situations recently, but given how infrequently he sees the pitch for the Merengues, it’s not as if we have much of a sample size here.

Hazard has been used as a false nine this season, and, in theory, he should be an effective one for Real Madrid with his awareness and chance-creation. But can he press, do all the little things, and provide the goals Real Madrid need up top? That would be the question he would have to answer if he starts. He has even less of a chance at starting than Jovic, though, because Ancelotti also does not have him in his rotation. And on top of that, he is not an actual striker.

RW Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale, on his day, is still a very good footballer, and there are Madridistas who swear that he should still be the best option on the right wing. We saw him play up top once this season, and while he was starved of service, he showed more of a scoring threat than any other non-striker who played up top.

A clinical finisher and a savvy runner off the ball, Bale’s technical quality and mental sharpness have clearly not deteriorated. He will not explode past defenders like he used to, and he cannot provide the work rate Real Madrid may want in a No. 9 in their system. Obviously, he is no Benzema.

But Bale is effective in his own way. He is the most intriguing option to start as a No. 9. As we saw last season at Tottenham, his nose for goal remains very much alive.