Real Madrid take on Czech Republic champions Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday night, in what could be a decisive fixture for Julen Lopetegui just 12 games into his Real Madrid tenure.
Madrid have been underwhelming so far this season, failing to register a victory in their past five fixtures. They are also struggling to hit form in The Champions League, currently sitting second after a 1-0 defeat to CSKA Moscow in their last Champions League outing.
Here is how Madrid could line up:
1. Goalkeeper and Defence
Keylor Navas : Thibaut Courtois has come under criticism since his controversial arrival from Chelsea and he may be glad to find himself on the bench for this game. Keylor Navas will be between the sticks for this European clash as he looks to stake a claim for regular La Liga duties.
Alvaro Odriozola : He may find himself at right back due to injuries, but the Spaniard will have a point to prove against Plzen. He had a game to forget against Levante and will look for a better performance before Dani Carvajal’s return from injury.
Sergio Ramos : The leader of this Madrid side, Ramos has been looked to for inspiration at both ends of the pitch this season. He’s scored twice from centre-half so far this term, with only Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale scoring more than him.
Raphael Varane : Another player whose confidence was heavily dented against Levante, the Frenchman needs a return to form. It was an out of sort’s performance from Varane but he should be much more comfortable against Plzen, who should cause Varane less problems than Levante did.
Marcelo : Madrid’s number one left-back, Marcelo is an immovable object in this Madrid side. He has impressed so far this season, one of the few Madrid stars who have performed thus far. He will be vital to Madrid’s success again on Tuesday night.
Casemiro : Madrid’s midfield general was a crucial part of Los Blanco’s success last term and he is now Los Blancos’ main holding midfielder. He has featured in every Madrid game so far this campaign and will look to put in another solid performance against Plzen.
Luka Modric : The Croatian has had a quiet season so far since his incredible World Cup campaign. He hasn’t been able to show the creativity he is capable of producing so far this term, with attacking chances limited for Los Blancos. A home fixture against Plzen could be the perfect opportunity to show what he is capable of.
Dani Ceballos: A surprise inclusion, but this could be Ceballos’ time to shine for Madrid. He has been limited to substitute appearances thus far but Lopetegui may look to the Spaniard for something different as the Madrid boss may decide to put fresh faces into his dejected side.
Gareth Bale : Welshman Bale could be the difference for Madrid. Los Blancos look much more direct in their attacking play when Bale is on the field. He could be key to getting in behind Plzen and notching some much needed goals, for himself and Madrid.
Karim Benzema : A man who has looked lost at times, the Ballon d’Or nominee has been poor so far this term. He is still Madrid’s senior striker however and will more than likely get the nod again on Tuesday, with Lopetegui unlikely to select Mariano Diaz for this crucial clash.
Isco : Playing in an unnatural left-wing position, Isco will look to offer something different to the Madrid attack. Lopetegui has played Isco in this position regularly and will look to him for crosses and passes for Benzema to capitalise on.
Picking the Best Potential Real Madrid Lineup to Face Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League