Julen Lopetegui has chosen to rest captain Sergio Ramos, as Real Madrid get set to take on CSKA Moscow in their second Champions League group stage tie.
Real Madrid continue the defence of their UEFA Champions League crown, when they pay a visit to CSKA Moscow at the VEB Arena on Tuesday night. Julen Lopetegui though, will play several fringe players, owing largely to injury concerns.
On top of that, the Real Madrid boss has chosen to rest captain Sergio Ramos for the second group stage match, explaining in his pre-match press conference that the Spanish defender needs to be rested.
“He’s played 125 minutes more than anyone else and I’ve decided to rest him for this one. There are times when you have to rest, so as to be able to feature in the other games. His hamstrings will thank him for the rest.”
In addition to the Real Madrid captain, Marcelo has missed the trip to the Russian capital to face CSKA Moscow as well, leaving Lopetegui down to his bare bones as far as defensive selections are concerned. As a result, a back four comprising of Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Jesus Vallejo and Nacho becomes an automatic selection.
In midfield, Isco is a major absentee, with the Spaniard still recovering from appendicitis. In his absence, the experienced trio of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro should start, with Dani Ceballos being named on the bench. Lopetegui addressed Ceballos and his current role during his presser as well.
“He’s a lad that we like and who really helps us as a team. He’s responding to the faith we’re placing in him in the best possible fashion by playing some sublime football. We need to have options for every moment of the game, but without compromising our outlook and playing style.”
Upfront, the big question marks surround the replacement for Gareth Bale, with the Welshman missing the trip to Moscow due to a groin injury. While Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema pick themselves, the final spot in the side will be contested between Lucas Vazquez and Mariano Diaz.
Mariano produced a fantastic cameo on his second Champions League bow, scoring his first goal for Real Madrid since returning from Lyon. The summer signing should thus, get the nod ahead of Vazquez, who will be an impact substitute, if need be.