Zinedine Zidane is likely to make a number of changes to the starting lineup for Real Madrid’s home game against Villarreal this weekend.
Real Madrid will be aiming to return to winning ways when they play hosts to Javier Calleja’s Villarreal side at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday afternoon. Los Blancos come into the game without a victory in their last two matches (D1 L1) and will be looking to correct their course in order to finish the 2018-19 season strongly.
Ahead of the clash, Real Madrid have not been handed any fresh injury blows, but they will continue to be without the Alvaro Odriozola and captain Sergio Ramos in defence. That would mean Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane continue to feature in the starting XI, but there could be a couple of changes with Jesus Vallejo and Marcelo making way for Nacho and Sergio Reguilon, respectively.
Thibaut Courtois was handed a start in the 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano last time out and the Belgian is likely to be given another opportunity by Zidane to make an impression, with his future at the club at stake.
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Luka Modric, who has had an indifferent campaign, has been omitted from the 19-man squad named by Zidane along with Gareth Bale. The Croat is likely to be replaced in the starting XI by Federico Valverde, who has done fairly well in the limited opportunities that have come his way.
Marcos Llorente started in the holding midfield role in the last game, but is very much likely to make way for Casemiro. Toni Kroos, however, is expected to hold on to his place in the Real Madrid midfield.
Real Madrid continue to be without the services of leading goalscorer Karim Benzema which is a big blow. However, they have been boosted by the return of Vinicius Junior, who had been one of the biggest positives of the season for the Merengues until his injury.
Speaking of the Brazilian in his pre-match presser, Zidane said, “He hasn’t surprised me a bit. He’s training, he’s doing a lot better and he’s ready to be included in the squad list. He’s very good and is really important for this team, particularly in terms of the future. He’s good, he deserves to be here and that’s all there is to it. After his injury we’ve got to take things slowly.”
While Vinicius’ return is a boost, it is unlikely that Zidane will thrust him back into action right away, meaning Marco Asensio is in line for a start on the left flank, while Mariano Diaz should continue to deputise in Benzema’s absence.
The likes of Isco, Lucas Vazquez and Brahim Diaz will be competing for the final attacking slot, which should ideally fall to the former Manchester City starlet after the promise he has shown in his past couple of appearances against Huesca and Getafe.