Real Madrid have been dealt a major blow ahead of their derby against second-placed Atlético Madrid, with left-back Marcelo being ruled out of Saturday’s game with a calf injury.
Los Blancos’ manager Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that Marcelo will miss the Madrid derby alongside long-term absentees Alvaro Arbeloa, Gareth Bale and Pepe. However, striker Karim Benzema will be available to start the match after missing the club’s previous fixture against Malaga due to a hip problem.
In his pre-match press conference, Zidane said (via realmadrid.com), “Marcelo had a problem with his calf and we have to be careful with that. That’s why he hasn’t trained today and he will not be with us.”
Although Bale and Pepe have resumed training, they are unlikely to be involved in what is sure to be an intense, fiery derby on Saturday. “Pepe trained with us, Bale trained apart and the rest are ok,” added Zidane, when asked about the duo.
There was speculation that Isco, Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal might be unavailable after they missed their training session on Tuesday, but the three players have recovered and could start the game. Carvajal could fill in for Marcelo at left-back, with Danilo or Nacho playing on the opposite flank.
As has been the case in the past going up against Diego Simeone’s side, Real Madrid will not find it easy to overcome their neighbours, who are currently one point ahead of them on the Spanish league table.
Borja Mayoral, the 18-year-old striker who scored a goal in Los Blancos’ midweek UEFA Youth League victory against Manchester City, has also been included in the first-team squad for Saturday’s fixture.
Real Madrid have failed to win any of their last five league fixtures against their cross-city rivals, and Zidane will be looking to end this poor run against Atlético. Meanwhile, Atlético will be hoping to maintain their recent supremacy in this fixture and keep pace with league leaders Barcelona.