Sergio Ramos should be one of the changes made by Santiago Solari when Real Madrid host Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg.
Real Madrid will be hoping to seal their passage through to the Copa del Rey final for the first time since 2014 when they welcome arch-rivals Barcelona to Santiago Bernabeu for the semi-final second leg on Wednesday night.
Santiago Solari does not have many pressing concerns ahead of the visit of the Copa del Rey holders, with just two first-team players on the sidelines. But, while he has a near-full strength squad available to him, the Real Madrid manager steered clear of divulging and team selection decision during his pre-match press conference.
“Our fans are the only definite starters tomorrow. I want to see as many as possible out there supporting us. I’m not going to say (who will start), I’m not giving my line-up away.”
There are no issues whatsoever in the goalkeeping department, with both Keylor Navas and Thibaut Courtois both available. Solari has defined clear roles for both the custodians, with Navas starting cup games whenever he is fit and available, meaning the Costa Rican should line up between the sticks against Barcelona.
The defensive lineup is only likely to see one change, with Sergio Ramos returning to the heart of the Real Madrid defence after missing the 2-1 win over Levante due to suspension. Giving Ramos company at the back, should be Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal and Sergio Reguilon, meaning Marcelo misses out again.
The two Real Madrid absentees are from the midfield department, with Isco (back) and Marcos Llorente (groin). The latter sustained his injury in the first leg in Barcelona and is still a few weeks away from returning, while Isco has returned to training. But, the game has come too soon for the Spaniard.
Isco might not have started anyway, with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos taking up two of the three slots in midfield as the creative supremos. Casemiro will continue in the holding midfield role as well, owing to Llorente’s absence.
Up ahead in attack, Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema are certain starters, owing to their solid form for much of 2019. The final spot in the side is a toss-up between Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio, with Bale being one of the subjects discussed by Solari.
“We have already spoken about Gareth, our focus now is on tomorrow’s game and we hope to live up to the demands of the tie. We have gone through a lot of knockout ties to make it this far. The first game was a great one for the fans, in terms of Gareth and the others, they are focussed on the game too. We are all standing united in the hope of winning as a team tomorrow.”
Bale though, is unlikely to get the nod due to Lucas Vazquez’s ability to affect the proceedings both on and off the ball, meaning the Spaniard should take up the final spot in the side.