Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane will recall his big guns Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard for the first Madrileno derby of the season this weekend.
Real Madrid will be aiming to make it three wins in three matches when they go head-to-head against neighbours and bitter rivals Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday night.
Having rested a number of his first-team regulars for the midweek tie against Osasuna, which Real Madrid won 2-0, manager Zinedine Zidane is expected to recall the big names for the blockbuster clash with Diego Simeone’s team.
The Merengues have also been handed a major boost, with Luka Modric, Isco and Marcelo all returning to training ahead of the game. Speaking about the trio, in his pre-match presser, Zidane said, “They are all better, it’s good news. We’ll see how we manage it. The three have trained with us.” However, Ferland Mendy remains sidelined along with Marco Asensio.
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There will be a change between the sticks on Saturday night, with first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois expected to take his place from summer arrival Alphonse Areola, who started in the midweek clash. Raphael Varane should walk back into the starting XI, replacing Eder Militao. The Frenchman will partner captain Sergio Ramos at the heart of the Real Madrid defence.
Dani Carvajal should return at right-back in place of Alvaro Odriozola, but no change is expected on the opposite side, with Nacho likely to start again despite Marcelo’s return to training.
Casemiro has been a vital figure in recent matches for Real Madrid and is an indispensable member of their midfield unit. He should continue to be partnered by German pass master Toni Kroos. Both Modric and Isco could make it to the matchday squad, but are unlikely to start on Saturday, with James Rodriguez set to don the playmaker’s role in the side.
Wholesale changes in attack are expected after Zidane went in with his backup options in the last game. Lucas Vazquez is likely to make way for Gareth Bale on the right flank, while Vinicius Junior could drop to the bench, despite having scored a wonderful goal in the game against Osasuna earlier in the week.
Replacing the Brazilian should be Real Madrid’s marquee summer signing Eden Hazard. Speaking of the Belgian on the eve of the game, Zidane said, “We know the player we have. At any time he will respond. He did in Seville. Of course, everyone expects more from him and he knows. This type of player is prepared for these matches. I have no doubt about Hazard or the rest of the players.”
Another summer recruit, Rodrygo Goes, who scored his first goal for Real Madrid in the midweek triumph, will not be involved at the weekend as he will be playing for the club’s Castilla side.
Spearheading the attack for Real Madrid against their local rivals should be star striker Karim Benzema. The Frenchman was an unused substitute in the midweek and should be well-rested for the derby. Luka Jovic will provide an option from the bench.
Predicted Real Madrid XI (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Nacho; Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Rodriguez, Hazard; Benzema