We just played Real Madrid in the league, but best I can tell that will have very little to do with the upcoming match in the Copa del Rey.
Injuries have ripped our roster all to pieces, and in a continued post World Cup funk they are not in any better shape. The big question for Thursdays match may actually be who really wants to keep playing this competition.
Madrid, for their part, just finished the Supercopa with a loss to Barcelona, and they have another extraneous competition approaching with the Club World Cup on the horizon. Their fixture list between now and the start of that competition is five matches in two weeks, and beating us would cause them to need to play a sixth. Frankly, it would not shock me if a good number of Castilla players found their way onto the pitch against us.
With transfer news about Danjuma swirling, it looks like his absence will join Pedraza, Lo Celso, and Jackson as absentees, with Femina, Foyth, and Gerard also doubts. As much as I would like to push on and try to win the Copa Del Rey, I certainly do not want to risk anyone’s health in the process.
Whether Madrid plays their kids or not, the main weakness in their side, currently, is their situation at both fullback positions. Ferland Mendy is under fire for his form and Dani Carvajal is back to his perpetual have injured/less than himself state, and neither has a real backup option unless David Alaba gets pushed out wide, and he is currently hurt.
Regardless of what the exact lineups turn out to be, our best idea will probably be to try to compromise their structure in the wide areas behind their fullbacks and find joy that way.
We are certainly capable of winning this matchup, but a win here would not be worth compromising our chase of the top four. Quique Setien will have to balance these concerns very carefully.