Alphonse Areola is in line to start in goal in place of Thibaut Courtois when Real Madrid take on Granada in a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.

La Liga Real Madrid will be aiming to get back to winning ways when they host second-placed Granada at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon.

After having played out consecutive draws against Atletico Madrid and Club Brugge over the past week, Zinedine Zidane and his troops will be eager to get one in the win column. But, their preparation for the clash against the Andalusian outfit has been far from ideal.

Firstly, having played in an intense clash the midweek, Real Madrid haven’t had enough time to recover. Moreover, they have been hit with further problems with injuries as veteran left-back Marcelo is ruled out along with first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is recovering from an illness that forced him off at half-time against Brugge.

With Courtois sidelined, summer signing Alphonse Areola is set to start at the Bernabeu against Granada. Speaking of the Frenchman in his pre-match presser, Zidane said, “He’s a top goalkeeper, as is Thibaut. He’s really good and that’s all I can say. Both of them are good. He has settled in really well and is happy with us.”

Areola impressed after coming on as a substitute in the midweek and will be hoping to usurp the No. 1 spot with another strong display. He will be shielded by the centre-back duo of Raphael Varane and captain Sergio Ramos, both of whom will be keen to bounce back after struggling in the last game.

Marcelo’s injury has complicated matters for Zidane as he has no recognized left-back at his disposal, with Ferland Mendy and Nacho already on the treatment table. The manager was quizzed whether he would consider using Gareth Bale in the position, which he dismissed, before hinting that Eder Militao could be in for a starting berth on Saturday.

“No, I haven’t been thinking about that [Bale as left-back] at all. I believe that we’ve got other options ahead of that one. Militao is an option, he’s a defender and has played there. He’s also played at right wing-back. It’s an option,” Zidane said.

Militao played regularly at right-back at his previous club, FC Porto and could start there on Saturday. Dani Carvajal, who has slotted in at left-back on a few occasions, including last season, should complete the backline for Real Madrid.

Casemiro and Toni Kroos have been among Real Madrid’s best performers in recent games and are guaranteed to feature in midfield. Luka Modric struggled against Brugge and could be benched this weekend. James Rodriguez is back in contention after being rested for the midweek game, but Federico Valverde is likely to get the nod as the third midfielder as Zidane seeks solidity.

In the attacking department, Gareth Bale is back in the 19-man squad named by Zidane, after being left out for the midweek clash, while Vinicius Junior has been omitted. The Welsh international is expected to replace Lucas Vazquez on the right flank, while Eden Hazard should get another opportunity on the left. Karim Benzema will spearhead the Real Madrid attack.

Predicted Real Madrid XI: Areola; Militao, Varane, Ramos, Carvajal; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Hazard

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