Federico Valverde ought to replace Luka Modric, with Marcelo likely to return as well when Real Madrid welcome Galatasaray in the Champions League.

Real Madrid will have a chance to take a big step towards reaching the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League when they play hosts to Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday. And, Zinedine Zidane does not have many pressing injury concerns to deal with ahead of his side’s latest European outing.

The Real Madrid boss has all of his goalkeepers at his disposal, with Thibaut Courtois expected to start between the sticks once again. The defence might see one shuffle, with Marcelo replacing Ferland Mendy.

Marcelo will be Real Madrid’s left-back, with Dani Carvajal a certain starter on the opposite flank. At the heart of the defence there is no looking past Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos, meaning Eder Militao misses out.

The only other change for the game against Galatasaray ought to come in midfield, with Luka Modric likely to be benched. The Croat has only just returned from an injury layoff and is likely to see his minutes being managed. Modric should be replaced by the impressive Federico Valverde.

Valverde will have Toni Kroos and Casemiro for company in the middle of the park, with Isco not finding a place in the Real Madrid starting lineup yet again. Meanwhile, one of the talking points in Zidane’s pre-match press conference was Gareth Bale’s absence, even as he was picked by Wales head coach Ryan Giggs for the latest international break.

“We want the player to be fit, the issue is that’s he’s not ready to be back in full training yet. We’ll see how he goes from day to day. His country has called him up and has the right to do so. It’s a FIFA fixture and we won’t get involved. The player wants to get back fit, we mustn’t doubt his motives.”

“Right now, Bale is not available. That’s all I can say, I’m not sure what the conversation was with his national coach. All I’m concerned about is getting him back fit. We’re not happy because I want to have a full fit squad with everyone available. That’s not been the case lately.”Real Madrid

Bale continues to remain unavailable for Real Madrid, with James Rodriguez also absent through injury, while Vinicius Jr. has been excluded from the squad to face Galatasaray. Zidane, thus, has only three recognised options to play out wide on Wednesday, making his selection a bit easier.

Rodrygo Goes was impressive against Galatasaray in the reverse fixture and has only continued to grow in stature since then. The Brazilian should start on the right side of the Real Madrid attack, with Eden Hazard an automatic pick on the opposite flank. There is no looking past Karim Benzema to lead the line for the hosts.

Predicted Real Madrid XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Hazard

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