Real Madrid: How Will They Line Up Against FC Copenhagen
Derby-day defeat and a five-point gap to the top of the table will be put to the back of Real Madrid's minds when they welcome FC Copenhagen to the Bernabeu on Wednesday night in the Champions League.
Madrid opened this year's annual quest for La Decima with a highly impressive 6-1 win against Galatasaray in Turkey.
Their Danish opponents also made an encouraging start in the competition, drawing 1-1 with Italian champions Juventus.
Home advantage and perceived weaker opposition—that Juventus result aside—means Carlo Ancelotti is likely to use the game to aid the match fitness of players who have been injured at the beginning of the campaign.
Starting at the very back though, the Italian has already confirmed that Iker Casillas will be his European goalkeeper; Diego Lopez will drop to the bench, via The Daily Mail.
Across the back four Ancelotti is beginning to have more and more options.
Aside from Marcelo—who is now back in training—he has pretty much a full selection of defenders to choose from.
Raphael Varane, who has been on the bench for the last three league matches, is expected to come into the side for his first appearance of the season. Pepe is likely to drop out.
Elsewhere in the back four Dani Carvajal could replace Alvaro Arbeloa at right-back, but Fabio Coentrao should continue his run of games at left-back.
Xabi Alonso is not yet ready for a return, however Ancelotti is expected to make changes from the Asier Illarramendi-Sami Khedira partnership which flopped against Atletico Madrid.
Luka Modric will almost certainly come in, and he could partner either of the two—the other one will take their place alongside Casemiro on the bench.
Angel di Maria was at fault for the Atelti goal on Saturday night when he was withdrawn at half time to be replaced by Gareth Bale. And while Ancelotti may see this match as a chance to get minutes for Varane and Carvajal, he may also see it as an opportunity for his preferred trio of attacking midfielders to gel.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Bale lined up at the start of the second half against Atletico, but the trio were well marshalled by the impressive Rojiblancos rearguard—Copenhagen could present a chance for the trio to work on their relationship.
Meanwhile, the No. 9 role is becoming both increasingly interesting and difficult for Ancelotti.
Until now Karim Benzema has started every match, league and Europe, managing four goals in eight appearances—including two in the opening round of Champions League fixtures.
However no league goal in five games has seen fans grow frustrated with him— he's been booed on more than once occasion at the Bernabeu.
So the question Ancelotti has to answer is as follows: Do Copenhagen represent the chance for the Frenchman to play himself back into form? Or is it time for him to have a rest and let Alvaro Morata show what he's got?
Get ready for the answer around an hour before kick-off on Wednesday night.
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