Zinedine Zidane is likely to recall some of his star players who were not part of the Real Madrid side that beat Leganes in the midweek.
Real Madrid will be looking to cut the gap to La Liga leaders Barcelona, when they face off against Deportivo Alaves at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. Los Blancos currently sit third on the table, following their 3-1 win over Leganes during the midweek.
Heading into Saturday’s encounter, Madrid will have to deal with the absence of several key players. Club captain Sergio Ramos, who has scored in the last two league outings, is suspended for the tie after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Leganes.
Fellow defenders Jesus Vallejo and Marcelo will also miss out due to injuries, while midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are also unavailable for selection.
Having been rested for the Leganes fixture, Costa Rican international Keylor Navas should resume his duties between the sticks on Saturday, replacing Kiko Casilla in the lineup. In defence, Dani Carvajal and Theo Hernandez should line up as the full-backs on the right and left side respectively, with Raphael Varane and Nacho sandwiched between them.
In the absence of Modric and Kroos, the central midfield partnership of Casemiro and Mateo Kovacic is expected to continue on the weekend. The Brazilian will have to shoulder more responsibilities for the champions, while Kovacic will be looking to make the most of the chances he is getting in the starting XI.
Lucas Vazquez, who was one of the goalscorers for Real Madrid against Leganes, should once again make it to the starting XI on the right flank. On the left-side, Marco Asensio is expected to retain his place for the encounter, despite missing Friday’s training session due to a dentist appointment.
Upfront, Welsh attacker Gareth Bale is likely to return to the starting XI, after making a brief cameo in the midweek game, Zidane hinted towards the same in his pre-match press conference. The 28-year old has been going through a lean patch, but the manager backed him to deliver for his team when needed.
“He’s [Bale] a key player in this squad and he always will be. The important thing is for him to feel fit and train well. He’s focused and I want to see him back at 100%. I don’t want to lose him to injury again. There are many things behind it but I’m sure he’s going to play a key role.”
Bale is likely to be partnered by Portuguese maverick Cristiano Ronaldo, meaning Karim Benzema will find himself on the bench for the weekend tie. Ronaldo was given a rest against Leganes and he will be hoping to mark his return to the starting XI with a starring display.