Gareth Bale is likely to replace the injured Eden Hazard while Federico Valverde will return when Real Madrid take on Manchester City in the Champions League.
Real Madrid will hope to take a step towards sealing a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals when they play hosts to Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night. And, Zinedine Zidane has been dealt a major blow ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
Eden Hazard has been ruled out for the foreseeable future after fracturing his ankle in the La Liga game against Levante this past weekend. The Belgian is unlikely to play against Manchester City in either leg, leaving Real Madrid depleted in the attacking department.
Apart from Hazard, Marco Asensio is the only other Real Madrid player on the sidelines, as he continues to recover from a long-term knee injury. There are no concerns whatsoever in the goalkeeping department, with Thibaut Courtois set to start in goal once again.
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Zidane also has all of his defensive resources available to him. The stakes involved in the tie against Manchester City means the Frenchman will name his first-choice backline. Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos should pair up at the heart of the Real Madrid defence, while Dani Carvajal picks himself as the right-back.
On the opposite flank, Zidane could go with Ferland Mendy to shore up the defensive side of things, despite Marcelo’s impressive performance against Levante. Up ahead in midfield, the usual rotation involving Federico Valverde and Luka Modric should continue.
Valverde will come into the side in place of the Croat, with Casemiro and Toni Kroos providing him company in the three-man midfield unit. Meanwhile, during his pre-match press conference, Zidane was quizzed on the importance of Valverde in his squad.
“Everyone is important here, not just Casemiro and Valverde. We know how important every player is, what they can do, and they have to be ready, this is a special week and the players love playing in these types of games, and we’re thrilled to be here.”
Meanwhile, the burning question for Zidane surrounded Hazard and his unavailability for the coming weeks. The Real Madrid manager commented, “I’m in no position to tell you whether he should have surgery or not. We have very qualified people who know about these things.”
“All I can tell you is how Eden is feeling. He’s frustrated, not happy, and we’re not at all pleased about his injury. We’re a bit down about it all because he wanted to be back playing with us, he wanted to give us what we know he can and ultimately he’s been robbed of that chance with another injury.”
The big decision for Zidane will be to pick Hazard’s replacement. Rodrygo Goes has been omitted from the 19-man squad to face Manchester City, meaning the Real Madrid boss will pick between Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Jr.
Bale is likely to get the nod to start in the three-pronged attack in place of Hazard. Karim Benzema will spearhead the Real Madrid attack against Manchester City, while the in-form Isco starts again.
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Isco