While Karim Benzema will be absent, Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior are expected to start when Real Madrid takes on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night. Real Madrid will be looking to advance to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey in the 2021/22 season. That is when they face Athletic Bilbao on Thursday night at the San Mames stadium. Athletic Club vs Real Madrid should be a feisty game, to say the least.
Los Blancos have received a big injury setback ahead of the encounter. Star striker Karim Benzema is ruled out of the contest. “Not taking any chances. So if the doctors clear him, he will play. If he is not, someone else will step in. He will participate if he is in good health. If not fit, will leave him at home. It is going to be a really tough game and does not make sense,” Ancelotti said in his press conference.
The Frenchman has been left out of the squad that the Italian tactician has selected for the match against Bilbao. Owing to injury and suspension, the left-back pairing of Ferland Mendy and Marcelo will also miss the match. The good news is that the South American foursome of Casemiro, Rodrygo Goes, Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde will be available for selection. They have returned from international duty in time for the match against Athletic Club.
Ancelotti did not clarify which goalkeeper would play this high-profile match during his press conference. Thibaut Courtois is the preferred choice above the designated cup shot-stopper Andriy Lunin for this high-profile match. Eder Militao and David Alaba could start in the centre-back positions. Dani Carvajal and Nacho will be filling in at the other end of the field.
Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will start in the midfield in Athletic Club vs Real Madrid
Casemiro should start in midfield from the start of the game, given that he did not get much playing time while on international duty with Brazil. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in the centre of the park, with possibilities from the bench in Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga.
Ancelotti will have some difficulty choosing the right options in the attack. That is since Karim Benzema has been ruled out. Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale have not hit form again. Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo will be exhausted after their international service.
When asked about his offensive possibilities at the press conference, the Italian tactician said affirmatively: “Yes, it is conceivable. Since they are feeling well, as is Asensio, who has made a complete recovery. While it is true that Vini Jr. and Rodrygo have just recently returned, they are only 20 years old, not 60 like me. They will be able to recuperate in due course. Hazard and Bale, on the other hand, are ready to play.”
Ancelotti should start with Asensio. The player has scored a goal in the Copa del Rey this season. Vinicius on either wing against Athletic Bilbao, with Luka Jovic, expected to lead the line in the absence of Karim Benzema.
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Nacho, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Asensio, Jovic, Vinicius.