Eden Hazard is set to make his Real Madrid debut when they welcome Levante to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon.
Real Madrid will be looking for their first home win of the season, when they play hosts to fourth-placed Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon. But, Zinedine Zidane has seen his squad’s injury crisis worsen further following the international break.
There are no concerns whatsoever in the goalkeeping department, however, with Thibaut Courtois and Alphonse Areola both fit and available. Areola was presented to the Real Madrid faithful on Friday, but will have to wait for his debut for a little while longer, with Courtois expected to keep his place in the Real Madrid goal against Levante.
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Defence is not giving way to any injury-related headaches either, with Zidane having every player in the defensive unit at his disposal. But, the Real Madrid boss is unlikely to make any changes at the back, with Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos continuing as the central defensive partnership while Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy will be the two full-backs once again.
The major concern is presented in midfield, where Zidane is stretched for options. While Isco was already unavailable for Real Madrid, the hosts are also set to be without Luka Modric (groin) and Federico Valverde (leg), although James Rodriguez has returned to provide Zidane some reprieve.
The midfield trio to face Levante, therefore, picks itself, with Toni Kroos, Casemiro and James Rodriguez becoming certain starters. The Real Madrid manager though, spoke about Modric during his pre-match press conference, lamenting the fact that he played two games in quick succession during the international break.
““I was not there with him but I think everyone tries the best for the players. Luka has had two games in three days and now we can’t think about that anymore. I hope Luka recovers quickly for us. He is injured, cannot play tomorrow and we must accept that.”
Up ahead in attack, Zidane has greeted both good news and bad. The good news is that Eden Hazard is finally in contention to make his competitive debut for Real Madrid after training this week, although Zidane threw caution to the wind when speaking of the Belgian.
“We have to take it easy with him. He’s been injured for three weeks and has returned to full training a week ago. We all really want to see him but there are a lot of matches and we don’t want to rush it. There is expectation, he’s prepared and I’ll be the one to decide how many minutes he plays. We will have to play with Hazard not only in this game but many more during the season.”
The aforementioned bad news is that the in-form Gareth Bale misses out due to suspension, which could force Zidane to name Hazard in the starting lineup to face Levante. Meanwhile, summer arrival Rodrygo is part of the matchday squad, although he is unlikely to start, with Vinicius Jr. and Karim Benzema completing the starting lineup.
Predicted Real Madrid XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; James Rodriguez, Casemiro, Kroos; Vinicius Jr., Benzema, Hazard