Real Madrid's 'Plan B' could return for Mallorca LaLiga clash

Following the international break, Los Blancos face Mallorca in LaLiga ahead of a trip to Turkey in the Champions League, a game that is clearly on the mind.

Once titular del Real Madrid en la 6ª jornada de LaLiga Santander 2019-2020 contra Osasuna: Areola, Ramos, Kroos, Militao, Casemiro, Valverde, Lucas Vázquez, Vinicius, Odriozola, Jovic y Nacho.

The return from the FIFA international break was meant to see Zinedine Zidane face three key games in quick succession. As it is, following the postponement of El Clásico, a LaLiga fixture away to Mallorca and a trip to Turkey for the Champions League clash with Galatasaray, is all that needs the Frenchman's attention. And his Plan B will get an airing once again.

Plan B for Madrid?

The first match after a break, where the wear and tear of the FIFA virus can be felt, is always a key time for Zidane's rotations. In the match against Levante in September there were only three changes from the previous eleven against Villarreal, but this was more a case of needs must. Lining up Casemiro with Kroos in midfield, for example, despite the fact that the Brazilian had practically just landed from a transatlantic trip, as Modric, Valverde and Isco were all injured. In the final break of last season, however, five players started in the game against Huesca that had not been in the previous match against Celta.

The distribution of minutes at this start of the season contrasts with the early days of the Frenchman's previous two campaign beginnings. The perceived first choice players have been relatively fixed in their roles, with three players (Casemiro, Kroos and Varane) picking up over 90% of the minutes available. Of the other years, Kroos, as an example, only achieved that level in 2016-17. Three others have seen 80% of the action this term (Benzema, Ramos and Carvajal), while Courtois has played 75% and Bale 62.2%.

Minutes distribution for Real Madrid players across first eight games of 2019-20

Player Minutes Percentage Player Minutes Percentage
Casemiro 870 96,7% Vinicius 313 34,8%
Kroos 836 92,9% Odriozola 270 30,0%
Varane 810 90,0% Mendy 270 30,0%
Benzema 791 87,9% Valverde 262 29,1%
Ramos 780 86,7% Modric 246 27,3%
Carvajal 720 80,0% Nacho 225 25,0%
Courtois 675 75,0% Areola 225 25,0%
Bale 596 66,2% Jovic 218 24,2%
Hazard 425 47,2% Militao 210 23,3%
Lucas V. 364 40,4% Isco 104 11,6%
James 321 35,7% Rodrygo 19 2,1%
Marcelo 315 35,0% Mariano 0 0,0%

Source: Opta.

Injuries have played their part, and Zidane will know that the changes he makes will be heavily criticised if he is unable to collect six points from these two games. The Clásico may have been postponed, but the pressure certainly hasn't.