Osasuna has hit a downturn in LaLiga Santander (LL), adding only three points out of the last 12 in play (E3, P1), a negative course that needs to be corrected immediately to maintain its chances of qualifying for a European competition for the first time since 2005-06. Their pass to the semifinals of the Copa del Rey (first leg vs Athletic Club, March 1) shows that this rojillo team is capable of raising their level in clashes against high-level rivals, something that they will undoubtedly have to do when they receive Real Madrid this Saturday.
More than 12 years without beating the whites at home: Osasuna has not beaten the current LL champion and potential opponent in the Copa del Rey final at El Sadar since January 2011 (E3, P5). In five of the last six home games against Real Madrid, Osasuna has conceded two or more goals. To this must be added the fact that the rojillo team has suffered its four league leagues at home this season against teams currently in the first four or last three positions, also being the only club without draws at home in LL 2022-23 (G6, P4), which makes Madrid’s favorite status even clearer.
Real Madrid overwhelmed the bottom club on Wednesday (RM 4-0 Elche), in a match in which Karim Benzema surpassed Raúl as the second top scorer in the history of the white team in LL, increasing his tally to 230 goals with a double of penalties. The French striker is still a long way from Cristiano Ronaldo’s 311 goals, but if he continues to do well in front of goal, he might help Madrid reduce their eight-point deficit over solid leaders Barça.
The Whites have alternated wins and losses in their recent league trips (W3, L3), and the last of them was the first in which they did not score this season (Mallorca 1-0 RM). It is highly unlikely that Carlo Ancelotti’s side will go without scoring again this Saturday, having earlier scored nine goals in two games in Morocco to beat Elche 4-0 to win their fifth Club World Cup.
Players to watch: A goal from Ante Budimir equalized the score at 1-1 for Osasuna in Real Madrid’s visit to El Sadar in LL 2021-22 (OSA 1-3 RM), but each of his next three goals have opened the score between minutes 40 and 70. His compatriot Luka Modrić closed the scoring against Elche on Wednesday, and his last eight appearances on target for Madrid have come in games with more than 2.5 goals.
Highlight: Madrid have lost just one of their last 28 LL games played on a Saturday (W24, D3, P1).