Spanish champions Real Madrid will be keen to put their forgettable Supercopa De Espana loss to Barcelona behind them when they take on Villarreal in the Round of 16 of the Copa Del Rey on Thursday night.
Los Blancos will travel to the Estadio de la Ceramica, a difficult venue, as they aim to win the competition for the 20th time. Despite their dominance in the domestic game, the Merengues last won the Copa Del Rey in 2013/14.
Carlo Ancelotti was the man in charge the last time Real Madrid won the trophy. And the Italian can add another feather to his cap should he repeat the trick. The Spanish giants were knocked out at the quarter-final stage last season, where they fell 1-0 to Athletic Club.
Losing to Barcelona is never a good feeling for Real Madrid, and they will be keen to put the memories of that to bed as quickly as possible. Facing a formidable opponent in Villarreal means Los Blancos have little time to dawdle on the past and instead focus on the upcoming challenges.
Real Madrid have won the competition just twice since 1993 and have shown it little importance in recent decades. Even so, losing two games on the spin and bowing out of two competitions could impact morale. And it is in their best interests to take the matches seriously.
Jet lag, fatigue and injuries will all impact Carlo Ancelotti’s options on the night. The Italian will be without Lucas Vazquez, David Alaba and Aurelien Tchouameni, while Dani Carvajal is also unavailable.
Ancelotti has been rather unwilling to promote youth players this season, and it is difficult to see him change that approach against Villarreal. Los Blancos are likely to set up in a 4-3-3 formation with Thibaut Courtois starting in goal.
With Alvaro Odriozola not in favour anymore, Real might be forced to deploy Nacho at right-back with Eder Militao and Antonio Rudiger in central defence. Ferland Mendy should start at left-back in a backline that should be tired yet formidable.
Toni Kroos will lend experience in abundance to a midfield three that will also consist of Eduardo Camavinga and Dani Ceballos. The Brazilian duo of Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior are likely to flank Karim Benzema upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Nacho, Militao, Rudiger, Mendy; Kroos, Camavinga, Ceballos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Reina; Cuenca, Albiol, Torres, A. Moreno; Capoue, Morlanes, Parejo; Chukwueze, Moreno, Pino