Luka Modric is set to return while Karim Benzema will replace Luka Jovic when Real Madrid welcome Atletico Madrid to the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Real Madrid are on a roll at the moment. The Spanish giants are on a four-game winning streak in all competitions, with their most recent win coming against Real Zaragoza in the Copa Del Rey. But, on Saturday, their run could be challenged by cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid, who will be keen on raking in all three points in an attempt to return to winning ways.
Real Madrid fans were hopeful on the return of both Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard this weekend. And while, in an official statement, the club did confirm that Hazard has trained with the team, the Belgian has been excluded from the 19-man squad that will face Atletico. Bale, too, misses out.
Speaking to the press on Friday, Zinedine Zidane dismissed the possibility of the Welshman’s potential departure from Real Madrid, stating, “He’s with us and I’m going to count on him. I don’t contemplate the possibility of his departure. We’re all here to play tomorrow and he has to be ready.”
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Nevertheless, we expect the Real Madrid manager to make a complete overhaul in the attacking department. Bale and Hazard’s absence should pave the way for Isco to start on the left wing ahead of Vinicius Junior, even though the Brazilian scored in the win over Zaragoza.
Meanwhile, Rodrygo Goes is also set to return to the side, at the expense of Lucas Vazquez, on the opposite flank. As for Karim Benzema, he is set to replace Luka Jovic in the number nine slot after starting on the bench in the last game.
In midfield, Federico Valverde may have to make way for Luka Modric, whose experience and quality on the ball could be essential. Toni Kroos is guaranteed to retain his place in the side, but he could shift into a left-sided central midfield slot, in order to make way for Casemiro, who was rested in the game against Zaragoza.
The Brazilian is a vital figure in the Real Madrid midfield and his performance could be key, especially in dealing with a highly tenacious Atletico Madrid side. As for the defenders, Zidane lauded Ferland Mendy in his press conference.
“He’s very hungry for competition and has a lot of quality. He likes to compete, he likes duels and he is showing it. He has just arrived and he knows that little by little he is soaking in what Real Madrid is,” said the Frenchman.
That being said, we still expect Marcelo to get the nod ahead of Mendy at left-back, while Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos are all expected to retain their places in the backline. Finally, in goal, Thibaut Courtois is guaranteed to replace Alphonso Areola.
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Isco