The injury woes are easing up for Santiago Solari ahead of Real Madrid’s trip to Catalonia to take on Espanyol at the RCDE Stadium on Sunday night.
Real Madrid will be hoping to continue their resurgent run when they travel to Cornella El Prat to face off against a struggling Espanyol side on Sunday night. And, Santiago Solari will be buoyed by the improving fitness situation within his squad.
As of this weekend, only Keylor Navas and Jesus Vallejo remain unavailable for Real Madrid, which is a healthy position to be in ahead of the start of a crunching schedule. And, Solari pointed towards the same during his pre-match press conference.
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“Only Keylor and Vallejo are on the verge of joining back up with us. We’ve got a lot of games in quick succession now and we’ll need all of them to be available. The players’ heart and soul is at the centre of each project and there are a lot of factors that determine whether you’re in good form: fitness, tactics and the emotional side of things.”
In the absence of Navas, Thibaut Courtois will continue to man the Real Madrid goal. The back four should see the usual suspects return and join Sergio Ramos, who was the only one of the new first-choice back four who started against Girona. Dani Carvajal and Sergio Reguilon should be the full-backs, with Raphael Varane lining up at the heart of the defence alongside Ramos.
Up ahead in midfield, Toni Kroos and Marcos Llorente are now fully fit, and the duo should return to the starting lineup. The final spot in the midfield three will be taken up by Luka Modric, who has rediscovered his best form in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, the attacking unit presents Solari with all of his options, with Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio returning to training. While Bale has made the matchday squad, the game has come too soon for Asensio, although Solari spoke of the Welshman during his presser.
“Football is always all about the next game. We’ll have to see who plays tomorrow and who plays in our next games. The players that are recovering are working their way back to fitness and we want them to be at 100%. He’s a fantastic footballer and we’re delighted to have him back.”
While Bale remains in contention to start, he is only likely to make an appearance off the bench against Espanyol, with Vinicius Junior and Lucas Vazquez starting in the wide positions. The lineup should be completed by Karim Benzema, who has been the most prolific player for Real Madrid this season.