Luka Modric and Rodrygo are set to return while Casemiro is suspended for Real Madrid’s league game against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Real Madrid will be eager to end their year on a high and keep pace with Barcelona when they play hosts to Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night. And, Zinedine Zidane does not have a fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
There are no issues whatsoever in the goalkeeping department, with Thibaut Courtois set to start in goal once again. The four-man defence is also expected to remain unchanged, with Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy manning the backline.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) December 21, 2019
Carvajal and Mendy will be the full-back pairing, while Ramos will continue to partner Real Madrid captain Ramos at the heart of the defence. Zidane will be forced to make one change, though, with Casemiro suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in La Liga last time out against Barcelona.
With Casemiro unavailable, Toni Kroos is expected to start at the base of the three–man midfield. Casemiro’s place in the side, though, should be taken up by Luka Modric, who was only a late substitute at Camp Nou. Modric and Kroos will have Federico Valverde for company in the middle of the park.
Zidane did have some good news to share during his pre-match press conference, providing an update on James Rodriguez. He said, “James is coming on. He’s slowly working his way up, he’s had a bad injury. He’s getting better every day now, you’ll see the squad. We want James back, this is very clear, I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but he is in his recovery process.”
Understandably, James is not in the right phase of his recovery period to be a part of the squad to face Athletic Bilbao. Meanwhile, there should be a couple of changes in attack, with Isco and Gareth Bale dropping down to the bench.
The shuffles will signal a change in the formation, with Zidane reverting to a 4-3-3 against Athletic Bilbao. Bale and Isco will be replaced by Brailian pair Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Jr. Karim Benzema will lead the line for Real Madrid, with Rodrygo and Vinicius providing support from the flanks.
Predicted Real Madrid XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde, Kroos, Modric; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.