Following Sunday’s home defeat to Real Sociedad, Real Madrid will look to return to winning ways when they welcome Leganes to the Santiago Bernabeu in first leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 clash on Wednesday night.
Leganes famously beat Madrid in the quarter-finals of last season’s Copa del Rey, and would fancy themselves to produce something similar, this time, as well. Here are three things to look forward to as Real Madrid host Leganes in La Copa.
3. Leganes to Play without Pressure
The visitors deservedly earned all the plaudits for knocking Los Blancos out of the cup competition, last season and thanks to Real Madrid’s inconsistent showings, the underdogs will back themselves to repeat the feat, this season, as well.
Leganes are currently placed 16th in the Spanish Primera Division table but have only lost one of their last seven matches in all competitions. It’s still an uphill climb for the visitors, but the fact that there is no pressure on them heading into the Bernabeu makes them a deadly opponent.
2. A Depleted Real Madrid Squad
The 2018/19 campaign hasn’t been kind on Real Madrid. They have slipped down to fifth in La Liga and as per reports, there’s no hope for a prompt change of fortunes. To top it all off, injuries to first-choice players have left them out of options in crucial areas of the pitch.
Midfield maestro Toni Kroos is the latest name on the injury list. The German joins Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale, Mariano Diaz, and Marcos Llorente on the list and is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks of football. Santiago Solari will, once again, have to dig deep and hope to come up with a solution that sticks.
1. Eyes on Marcelo and Vinicius
The two Brazilians will be under the microscope when Madrid host Leganes on Wednesday night. Marcelo, who is one of the most experienced players in the squad, has been in abysmal form this season, and was jeered throughout the last La Liga matchday.
Vinicius, on the other hand, has emerged as Madrid’s brightest point this season. He still lacks the finesse to make his quality count, but his energy has really been exemplary.
Tonight, Madrid will be heavily dependent on the duo’s performance, as they would need Marcelo to be at his defensive best to stop Leganes from making inroads, while Vinicius will have the monumental task of taking the game to Madrid’s humble rivals.