Real Madrid might have a defensive crisis at hand, with both their first-choice full-backs doubtful for the clash against Atletico Madrid.
The Madrid derby is upon us. Atletico Madrid may have had the first laugh, beating Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. But, the league match, that too at Santiago Bernabeu, is a different beast altogether. Julen Lopetegui, though, has a potential defensive crisis at hand before the match.
Thibaut Courtois should be given the nod ahead of Keylor Navas, despite the Best Goalkeeper winner letting in three goals against Sevilla. While Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are fit and will be the centre-back pairing, it is the full-back area that is a concern for Real Madrid.
Marcelo limped off during the midweek and is doubtful for the clash against Atletico Madrid. Dani Carvajal is also a doubt on the right, leaving Lopetegui potentially without both the first-choice full-backs. Carvajal could make it in time to start but Nacho will have to be deployed on the left, with Marcelo suffering from an injury in his right leg.
In his pre-match conference, Julen Lopetegui highlighted on the physical impact the midweek clash against Sevilla had, stating that the team had done well to recover and are raring to go in the Madrid derby.
“The team is fine. We have a match every three days and, logically, we have had to respond. The second half against Sevilla backed it up. We talk about the physical side a lot when there are other footballing circumstances that happen in matches.”
Isco is another casualty, with the midfielder suffering from appendicitis. The midfield three should consist of Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.
Marco Asensio has been in fine form and should get the nod to start on the left side of attack. Gareth Bale is Real Madrid’s top scorer so far in the 2018-19 campaign and is set to continue on the right. Karim Benzema will likely start through the middle and the Frenchman will be hoping to return to scoring ways.
Real Madrid’s duck against Sevilla was a rare sight in general and Lopetegui moved to brush the result aside as an anomaly.
“The data has to be analysed in a more global manner. The team has created a lot of chances, also in the recent games, and we’ll continue to do so. Real Madrid are always a goal-scoring team.”
The likes of Vinicius Jr., Mariano Diaz, Dani Ceballos and others will hope to make a difference from the bench, should the need arise.