Santiago Solari will be without just two first-team players on Saturday, as Real Madrid prepare to play hosts to Valencia at Santiago Bernabeu.
Santiago Solari’s time in-charge as the full-time Real Madrid manager may started on a losing note last weekend. But, the Argentine and Los Blancos can make amends, when they welcome Valencia to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night in a Matchday 14 tie.
Solari has greeted plenty of good news this weekend, with the likes of Keylor Navas, Jesus Vallejo, Sergio Reguilon and Alvaro Odriozola have all returned to training. Navas though, is likely to remain on the bench against Valencia, with Thibaut Courtois starting in goal for Real Madrid.
Vallejo, Reguilon and Odriozola are not expected to feature either, with the trio likely to return against UD Melilla in the Copa del Rey. Nacho is the only defender on the treatment table. But, with both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane available, Solari does not have any pressing concerns in defence.
Joining Ramos and Varane in the Real Madrid backline, should be the first-choice full-backs Marcelo and Dani Carvajal. Meanwhile, Casemiro is the only other player unavailable due to an ankle injury, although Marcos Llorente presented himself as a viable alternative to the Brazilian last time out against AS Roma.
The young Spaniard should start as the holding midfielder once again, with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos likely to hold on to their places as well, following positive performances in Rome. But, attack will hold the key for Real Madrid against an organised Valencia defence, as pointed out by Solari during his pre-match press conference.
“We know they are a well-organised and tactically disciplined team. They have conceded very few goals and we’ll have to focus on our players and their talent, and make sure we’re clinical and aggressive in the top three-quarters of the pitch.”
The clinical touch will need to be provided by Karim Benzema, who has been in fine touch of late. The aggression though, will have to flow from Gareth Bale, who has blown hot and cold this season, but will need to continue stepping up after scoring in the midweek European tie for Real Madrid.
The final spot in the side is a toss-up between Lucas Vazquez, who was the other scorer against Roma, and Marco Asensio, who has been underwhelming this season. Vinicius Jr. is a dark horse for the spot on the left flank, although Asensio is likely to get the nod in the end.