Santiago Solari will be without five first-team players when Real Madrid pay AS Roma a visit at Stadio Olimpico in a UEFA Champions League Matchday 5 tie.
Qualification to the Round of 16 will be on the agenda for majority of the teams across the eight groups on Matchday. The two best sides in Group G could book their places in the knockout stages without even kicking the ball, although top spot will be on the line when AS Roma and Real Madrid meet at Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday.
Ahead of the crucial tie though, Santiago Solari has to contend with a number of pressing concerns. Defence is the worst hit area, with Alvaro Odriozola (thigh), Nacho (knee) and Sergio Reguilon (hamstring) missing the trip to the Italian capital, while Keylor Navas (knee) is out injured as well.
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The absence of the aforementioned quartet means that Solari’s back-four, as well as the goalkeeper, pretty much select themselves. In Navas’ stead, Thibaut Courtois should continue in goal, while Dani Carvajal is likely to return to the right side of the Real Madrid defence. Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo should complete the defensive unit.
The biggest concern for Solari, however, is the absence of Casemiro. With the Brazilian international unavailable last time out against Eibar, the side looked out of balance. But, the Real Madrid boss put his faith in Dani Ceballos during his pre-match press conference, while also suggesting other alternatives.
“We’ve got several players who are capable of playing in that role, and even some of the centre-backs can play there. We’ve got Ceballos, who has done a good job in there. Each game is different. The players we could play in there are Valverde, Kroos, Llorente… Just like the rest of the injured players, we want to welcome Casemiro back as soon as possible.”
While Ceballos will start in the holding midfield role once again, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric should be the creative personnel in the middle of the park, despite the duo’s poor form. Up ahead in attack though, Solari will likely drop an underperforming superstar.
Marco Asensio could be relegated to the bench after another underwhelming performance on the left flank. In his place, Isco is likely to be handed a rare start under Solari’s tutelage, and the Real Madrid boss spoke about the Spaniard as well.
“He’s training well and he’s a really important player for us. I’m counting on him just as much as I am every other member of the squad.”
Karim Benzema is one of the few in-form players for Real Madrid and should thus, start as the focal point of the Real Madrid attack. Gareth Bale is likely to be given another chance to prove himself, lining up on the right wing, with Isco being deployed on the opposite flank.