Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui will recall Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale to the starting lineup when Viktoria Plzen come visiting on Tuesday night.
Real Madrid will be looking to bring an end to their five-match winless streak, when they face off against Czech Republic outfit Viktoria Plzen in their third Group G encounter of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.
The reigning European champions find themselves in a spot of bother following the recent run of poor results, that has seen them lose against Sevilla, Alaves and Levante in the La Liga and CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. Manager Julen Lopetegui is under intense pressure to get things back on track, amid reports that Los Blancos are set to axe him.
Speaking about his future in his pre-match presser, Lopetegui said, “I am looking at the situation the same as ever, I am carrying out my day to day as usual and that is what is under our control. If you want to see a defeated coach then don’t look here. I am not thinking about anything else other than tomorrow’s game. I am here right now, I cannot confirm anything else right now”.
Following their 2-1 defeat to Levante this past weekend, there are a few changes likely to be made in the starting XI by the manager.
First in line will be the goalkeeping position, with Costa Rican international Keylor Navas expected to come into the team for summer signing Thibaut Courtois. First-choice right-back Dani Carvajal remains sidelined for Real Madrid with a calf problem and has not been included in the 19-man matchday squad.
Lopetegui is likely to call on the more experienced Nacho into the team ahead of Alvaro Odriozola at right-back, while Marcelo is expected to hold on to his spot on the opposite side. The central defensive partnership of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane had a forgettable game this past weekend, but are likely to retained, with the manager backing the experienced duo to turn things around.
Midfielder Dani Ceballos has also been excluded from the matchday squad, despite there being no injury or fitness issues concerning the Spaniard. Luka Modric and Casemiro are expected to hold on to their places in the middle of the park for Los Blancos, with the third midfield spot likely to be taken up by Toni Kroos, who did not start in the weekend defeat.
Gareth Bale had been left out on the bench against Levante by Lopetegui, owing to the fact that the Welshman had recently recovered from an injury. He will be thrust back into the starting XI on the right flank, in place of Lucas Vazquez. Marco Asensio, despite his recent struggles, is expected to hold on to his spot on the left side of the attack.
Karim Benzema was benched by Lopetegui this past weekend, due to a small niggle. “Physically, he had a bit of discomfort but he’s had two full sessions back with the team. Psychologically I think he seems perfectly fine,” the manager had said before the game against Levante.
The Frenchman should be reinstated to starting XI for Tuesday’s encounter, with summer signing Mariano Diaz expected to make way.