Real Madrid will have to make do without the services of midfield mainstay Luka Modric, when they welcome Real Valladolid to the Bernabeu this weekend.

Real Madrid will welcome Real Valladolid to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday evening for their second game of the 2019-20 La Liga season. Having kickstarted the campaign with a 3-1 win against Celta Vigo, Zinedine Zidane’s side will be aiming to bag three points again on Saturday and put pressure on title rivals Barcelona early in the season.

Ahead of the weekend encounter, there has been a lot of talk about the future of goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who has fallen behind Thibaut Courtois in the pecking order and has been constantly linked with an exit.

Addressing the Costa Rican’s situation in his pre-match presser, Zidane said, “He is, has been and will always be an important player for us and the possibility isn’t something I’m considering. He’s always been and always will be a top professional. There’s no change to the situation. We’ll have a lot of games and I’m going to play him.”

However, the Frenchman is unlikely to hand Navas a start this weekend, with Courtois expected to continue between the sticks.

Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are guaranteed starters at the heart of the defence, while Marcelo should keep his place at left-back ahead of new signing Ferland Mendy. There could be a change at right-back though, as Dani Carvajal is back after serving his suspension and could replace Alvaro Odriozola in the starting XI.

Casemiro and Toni Kroos, who scored in the season opener, are expected to keep their places in the middle of the park for Real Madrid. However, Luka Modric will miss out of the game after being sent off in the last game. Zidane has Isco, Federico Valverde and James Rodriguez as options to fill in for the suspended Croat. But, based on pre-season involvement, Isco is likely to get the nod.

The attacking department is a problem for Real Madrid with a number of players out injured. New recruits Eden Hazard and Rodrygo are both ruled out, as are Brahim Diaz and Mariano Diaz, while Marco Asensio is a long-term absentee.

Zidane will once again have to count on Gareth Bale, who came so close to leaving the club this summer. The Welshman impressed in the opening game and seems to be winning back the manager’s trust. Speaking of the forward, Zidane said (h/t Managing Madrid), “The other day he played a good game but not just in what he is good at. He worked hard defensively.”

“What has changed is that the player is going to stay, nothing else. The important thing is that the player wants to stay, and we will count on him. He has shown he is a big player, and he must show again the player that he is.”

Bale should start on the right side of the attacking trident, with Vinicius Junior occupying the opposite flank. Karim Benzema, who scored against Celta, should spearhead the attack again, ahead of Luka Jovic.

Probable Real Madrid XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Isco, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Vinicius

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