Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane will have Pepe and Sergio Ramos missing when Los Blancos take on Granada on Saturday afternoon.

It’s Matchday 17 in Spain and La Liga leaders Real Madrid host second-from-bottom Granada in Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff. On the agenda for Zinedine Zidane’s men is extending the unbeaten run to 39, as well as increasing their lead on top of the table.

Here’s the team news for Real Madrid ahead of the return of Spanish league football action at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Madrid boss Zidane has a lengthy injury list on his hands, with as many as five key players missing Saturday’s match with various injuries. The problems begin right at the back, with first choice centre-backs Pepe (calf) and Sergio Ramos (muscular problem) both sidelined.

With both the central defenders likely to be eased back into the first team to prevent a recurrence of their problems, Raphael Varane and Nacho are expected to fill in at the heart of the Real Madrid defence in the absence of their senior defenders.

In midfield, Lucas Vazquez (calf) and Mateo Kovacic (sprained ankle) also miss out on the visit of Granada. However, Zidane has the rest of his midfielders fit and available, which affords him  several options to choose from.

Meanwhile, influential winger Gareth Bale is making positive progress in his recovery from an ankle injury, and has made a return to training. However, he won’t take any part in Saturday’s proceedings as the game comes too soon for the Wales international.

However, the team’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is all set to make a return to the starting lineup after being rested for Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey Round of 16 clash earlier in the week. He is likely to be joined by Karim Benzema and Alvaro Morata in the front three for Los Blancos.

In his pre-match press conference, Zidane stressed on how he intends to keep Ronaldo fit throughout the season with the Portugal captain so crucial to his side’s fortunes. He said: “My idea is to have Cristiano fit throughout the season.

“When playing 20 games in 70 days, obviously from time to time you have to rest. That is how we both see it. He always wants to play but we discuss things.”

Here’s Real Madrid’s 19-man squad for the visit of Granada on Saturday:

Goalkeepers:  Navas, Casilla and Yáñez.
Defenders: Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo, Coentrão and Danilo.
Midfielders: Kroos, James, Casemiro, Modric, Asensio and Isco.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Mariano and Morata.

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