While we are only 2 games into the La Liga season, Real Madrid look very similar to last year’s squad. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is because they added almost no additional personnel, and instead let numerous skilled players leave. Madrid began their title defense with 0-0 draw versus Real Sociedad, but were able to pull out a 3-2 win this past weekend versus Real Betis. Madrid looked better against Betis, but the issue remains that they need more scoring support from players other than Benzema.
Now it goes without saying that Hazard and Asensio should provide a boost once both return from injury. Based on the past few months, it seems a safer bet for Asensio to return to form, rather than Hazard, who was been a terrible disappointment thus far. Beyond these two players, who else within the current squad can help drive scoring opportunities?
Isco could be a good solution to this problem. Madrid looked much better in the second half against Betis, which is when Isco came on for Odegaard. Isco provides creativity in the midfield and as an attacking option going forward. I think it would be prudent to keep him in the starting xi for the upcoming game against Valladolid.
Kroos is an obvious must start, but he did pick up a knock this past weekend. This is a nice opportunity for Valverde to step up and deliver on the promise he showed last season.
Ideal starting XI (assuming healthy players):
Mendy / Varane / Ramos / Carvajal
Casemiro / Kroos / Valverde
Asensio / Hazard / Benzema
Modric just misses the cut, and so does Isco. Honestly, it is out of pure respect for Hazard’s talent that he makes this starting xi over Isco. Hazard will soon be out of favor if he cannot stay healthy and build continuity with his game. It will be interesting to watch how Zidane sets his lineup this Wednesday against Valladolid.