Real Madrid are looking to turn around their poor start to the season at home, with a convincing display against an Eibar side who are looking to stay clear of the relegation zone in La Liga.
Following a dominating display against Tottenham in the Champions League, which ended with a disappointing point at the Santiago Bernabeu, the hosts need to get back on track to gain momentum and keep up the pace with league leaders Barcelona, as their rivals have already created a five point lead.
In the reverse fixture last season, Real Madrid suffered a winless streak extend to four games without a victory, as a number of chances were wasted by Los Merengues to create a hostile atmosphere from the home fans.
This was not to last as they swept all before them in the Champions League to gain back-to-back victories, while also pipping rivals Barcelona domestically to win La Liga. Nevertheless, in October 2016, much like this year, a series of missed opportunities cost Real Madrid as Eibar took a shock lead through a Fran Rico header.
Welsh wizard Gareth Bale found an equaliser ten minutes later, but 14 further shots were wasted on goal as Real Madrid were frustrated by a resilient defence.
With star player and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo yet to score in front of the home crowd in La Liga, Real Madrid may be looking for further influential players to step forward while the Portuguese striker ‘struggles’ domestically. As Los Blancos lag behind in 3rd place, they will rely on the excellent form of creative genius Isco to shoulder the burden.
The Spanish playmaker has been a revelation since Bale has been on the sidelines, including last season when his ability was visible for all to see building up to the Champions League final.
Meanwhile, Eibar are struggling to not only score goals but keep them out too, conceding thirteen in the last four games. Important centre-half Alex Galvez is the leader of the back four, and needs to rally his troops to push for a stronger defensive effort in the face of the La Liga champions.
As the right side of Real Madrid’s usual line is currently out with injuries, manager Zinedine Zidane will have to call upon a mixture of youth and energy to end the stuttering home form that has cost them their place at the top of the league so far.
Bale is still out of contention with a calf muscle injury that prevented him from helping Wales to qualify for next year’s World Cup, while strong right-back Dani Carvajal is struggling with a viral pericardium infection.
In his place young starlet Achraf Hakimi impressed against Spurs, so Zidane could stick with the enthusiastic 18-year-old.
After picking up an abductor injury against Tottenham, Keylor Navas will be missing for a couple of weeks, with Kiko Casilla stepping up in his place.
Eibar on the other hand have further issues on their plate, with a number of first team stars out of action. Last year’s goalscorer Fran Rico is currently nursing a knee injury, which is expected to keep him out until February, while former Real Madrid star Pedro Leon and Yoel Rodríguez are missing for this important fixture.
Predicted Line Ups
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Casilla; Achraf, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema
Eibar (3-5-2): Dmitrovic; Oliveira, Ramis, Arbilla; Capa, Escalante, Carrillo, Jordan, Junca; Kike, Enrich
Real Madrid to get back to winning ways at the Santiago Bernabeu with a thumping home win, winning by four goals to keep up the pressure on Barcelona, who face bottom of the table Malaga who are also desperate for a victory.
Eibar will continue to struggle if they cannot shore up their defence, but that doesn’t look like ending against one of the most potent attacking forces in Europe, even without Bale. The away side will be counting down the minutes until they can move on to the next ray of hope in the following game.