Santiago Solari is without five first-team players ahead of his first UEFA Champions League tie in-charge of Real Madrid against Viktoria Plzen.
Real Madrid will be aiming to take a step towards booking a place in the Round of 16 when they travel to the Doosan Arena to take on Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday. The match will be Santiago Solari’s first UEFA Champions League tie in-charge of Los Blancos, although it could be quite a challenge for the Argentine.
The Real Madrid interim boss will be without four first-team defenders, with Marcelo (hamstring), Jesus Vallejo (thigh) and Raphael Varane (leg) on the injury table. Dani Carvajal is unavailable as well, as he continues his recovery from a calf injury upon resuming light training.
Solari is thus, left with Sergio Ramos, Nacho, Alvaro Odriozola, Sergio Reguilon and Javi Sanchez as his only defensive options heading into Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League tie. Ramos will have to guide a relatively young and inexperienced backline, and Solari gave his backing to the Real Madrid captain during his pre-match press conference.
“He has broad enough shoulders to cope with the responsibility of being Real Madrid captain, which is a big one. He has been and continues to be a fantastic captain. I think that he makes a marvellous job of a task that’s far from easy.”
Giving Ramos company at the heart of the Real Madrid defence will be the versatile asset that is Nacho, with Alvaro Odriozola and Sergio Reguilon being the full-backs for the visitors. A major bone of contention for Solari though, will be the choice of the goalkeeper.
So far in his short spell, the Real Madrid caretaker manager seems to be following a similar pattern as the one that Julen Lopetegui had implemented before his departure, with Thibaut Courtois starting in La Liga games. Keylor Navas should thus, be the man deployed between the sticks against Viktoria Plzen.
In midfield, Solari does have the likes of Dani Ceballos, Marcos Llorente and Federico Valverde to call upon. But, he is expected to stick with Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro despite the trio not exactly performing to the best of their abilities lately.
Upfront, Gareth Bale is another player who has flattered to deceive of late. But, Solari might give the Welshman another go to shrug off his slump, leaving Marco Asensio on the bench. Karim Benzema is the only striker at his disposal, with Mariano Diaz on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury.
The Frenchman should thus, lead the line for Real Madrid. The final spot in the side though, is another one that poses a problem of plenty. But, Vinicius Jr. should get the nod following his exploits in the first two games that Solari has overseen and should be set to make his Champions League debut as a result.