Madrid's options without Benzema, Bale, Modrić

Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Luka Modrić will miss the decider against Club Atlético de Madrid; Richard Martin wonders how Real Madrid CF will plug the gaps.

Karim Benzema looks unlikely to be involved on Wednesday
Karim Benzema looks unlikely to be involved on Wednesday ©AFP/Getty Images

Real Madrid CF boss Carlo Ancelotti will be forced into rejigging his team more than anticipated for their quarter-final second leg against Club Atlético de Madrid now that Karim Benzema has joined Gareth Bale and Luka Modrić on the sidelines after being diagnosed with strained knee ligaments.

Javier Hernández is the prime candidate to replace Benzema in attack after an impressive display in Madrid's 3-1 win against Málaga CF on Saturday. The Mexican international striker has experience at this stage of the competition, having helped to send Manchester United FC through to the 2010/11 semi-finals by scoring in a 2-1 defeat of Chelsea FC.

Elsewhere, Ancelotti will replace Modrić with Isco, who filled in so admirably during the Croatia midfielder's four-month lay-off earlier this season. The absence of Bale means the Merengues coach also has to decide whether to change his side's shape for Wednesday's encounter. The suspension to Marcelo, meanwhile, means Fabio Coentrão will come in at left-back.

UEFA.com explores Ancelotti's three likely options.

1) (4-4-2) Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Coentrão; Isco, Kroos, Illarramendi/Khedira, James; Hernández, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale and Luka Modrić are both out
Gareth Bale and Luka Modrić are both out©Getty Images

Option one is to revert to the 4-4-2 system Ancelotti employed during Bale's absence earlier in the campaign. This worked a treat as Madrid won six games on the bounce, beating FC Barcelona, Liverpool FC (twice), Granada CF, Levante UD and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid.

However, the calming presence of Modrić was key to that four-man midfield working so well, and shorn of his schemer, Ancelotti will have to call upon either Sami Khedira or Asier Illarramendi, who have started only 15 matches between them on all fronts this term.

2) (4-3-3) Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Coentrão; Isco, Kroos, James; Jesé, Hernández, Ronaldo

Plan B is to stick with his favoured 4-3-3 formation and put Jesé on the right of the attack, alongside Hernández and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Could Jesé be in line for a rare start?
Could Jesé be in line for a rare start?©Getty Images

The 22-year-old academy product has had limited first-team opportunities since returning to fitness in December after nine months recovering from a cruciate ligament tear. He has started just one Liga fixture and made 13 substitute outings in all competitions since. However, he has similar attributes to Bale and showed he has lost none of his pace and power by scoring an impressive solo effort in the 3-0 success against SD Eibar on 11 April.

3) (4-3-1-2) Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Coentrão; Isco, Kroos, Illarramendi/Khedira; James; Hernández, Ronaldo

Should Ancelotti choose to enlist either Illarramendi or Khedira, he could still persist with a version of the 4-3-3 template by deploying James Rodríguez just behind Hernández and Ronaldo. Although James has done superbly playing in midfield for the Merengues, his natural role is up front. He claimed six goals in five matches for his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup (winning the Golden Boot) in an advanced berth, also excelling there against Málaga at the weekend.

James Rodríguez could be pushed forward by Carlo Ancelotti
James Rodríguez could be pushed forward by Carlo Ancelotti©Getty Images
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