Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao: With only two games left in La Liga, Real Madrid have no choice but to get all available six points and hope that Atletico Madrid slip up. The first of these two games will be against Athletic Bilbao in a game that will surely be intense and difficult for the team but they will have absolutely no choice as Zidane is expected to go back to a more familiar lineup.
In goal, Thibaut Courtois will be the starter and will have to continue being at his absolute best on the night. The Belgian is one of the core reasons why Real Madrid are still fighting for the league this late into the campaign and his consistency has been incredible.
During the game against Granada, Zinedine Zidane decided to start the game with Marvin Park and Miguel Gutierrez but that won’t be happening this time around. Alvaro Odriozola will be back in his position at right-back as he has been continuously improving in recent months while the recently extremely familiar partnership of Eder Militao and Nacho Fernandez will be continuing in the center of the defense.
On the left, Marcelo will return after recovering from a slight discomfort (and not an argument with the manager) as he will be the captain on the night. All four players will be tested a lot throughout the match and they’ll need to be prepared for whatever the Basque side throws at them during the 90 minutes.
After seeing Toni Kroos rested in the last game, it would have been fair to expect him to start against Athletic Bilbao but unfortunately the German international will be missing the game due to health protocols after he was in contact with someone that tested COVID-19 positive even though he has been testing negative so far. Therefore, Real Madrid will be expected to line up with the same midfield three that we saw in midweek as Carlos Casemiro will be the defensive midfielder while Federico Valverde and his incredible energy will be in front of the Brazilian alongside the magician known as Luka Modric who has been sensational so far.
It has been a little strange to see that the manager has opted against playing Eden Hazard as a starter over the past couple of games, but we could be seeing him back in the team this time around with possibly Rodrygo Goes on the opposite side.
This isn’t exactly an attack on Vinicius Junior, but Rodrygo did well against Granada and could start the game before Zidane brings on Vinicius for Hazard or Rodrygo during the second half where his speed will certainly cause problems for Athletic Bilbao. Karim Benzema will be the starting striker on the night and with 22 goals scored in the league so far from the Frenchman, you can always bet on him to find the back of the net against anyone.
Full Predicted Lineup
Thibaut Courtois, Alvaro Odriozola, Eder Militao, Nacho Fernandez, Marcelo, Carlos Casemiro, Federico Valverde, Luka Modric, Rodrygo Goes, Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema