Zinedine Zidane is expected to name an unchanged starting eleven for the match against Athletic Bilbao, with Gareth Bale slated to remain on the bench.

Real Madrid’s fortunes have not exactly seen an improvement despite the return of Zinedine Zidane at the helm. The Frenchman has seen his side stutter through the matches so far and has had to deal with several injury troubles, which persist as Real Madrid host Athletic Bilbao.

The list of injuries is long and showing no signs of relieving the personnel problems at Zidane’s hand. Thibaut Courtois is one of the players injured, which has somehow eased the goalkeeper issue, with Keylor Navas set to be between the sticks against Athletic Bilbao, with Luca Zidane expected to be on the bench.

Sergio Ramos is out for the month and Alvaro Odriozola is sidelined for the rest of the season. The duo’s absence means Zidane will field an unchanged back four from the team that drew 1-1 against Leganes, with Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Nacho and Marcelo set to be in-charge of supporting Navas.

In midfield, Toni Kroos is out with injury and Federico Valverde has somehow impressed Zidane enough to claim a starting spot in place of the German. Valverde should be accompanied by Casemiro and Luka Modric in the middle of the park, with Marcos Llorente and Dani Ceballos not named in the 19-man squad.

In attack, Vinicius Jr. remains a dire miss for Real Madrid, with Mariano Diaz also sidelined. Zidane has reinstated Isco in attack, with the Spaniard set to start on the right flank, while Marco Asensio will be on the left. Karim Benzema will reprise his role as the centre forward against Athletic Bilbao.

Zidane chose to speak on Vinicius Jr.’s injury status in his pre-match conference, stating that while the winger is back in training, he will be slowly reincorporated into the setup, with the club careful of not rush the player straight back into the starting eleven after injury.

Zidane said,“ I’m pleased to see him back with us but we have to take it slowly because he’s been out for two months and now we have to work with him gradually. That’s how we’re looking at it. He’ll have to work hard next week and then we’ll see on a day-by-day basis.”

“We have to take it easy, we don’t want to rush him back. He’s shown his quality and he’s a super player to have looking to the future, at just 18 years of age. I’m pleased for him.”

Brahim Diaz is a part of the 19-man squad and could see some minutes on the pitch again. Gareth Bale remains on the bench for Real Madrid, with Zidane preferring to start Asensio and Isco in the wide positions.

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