Toni Kroos is likely to replace Luka Modric while Marcelo will return to the starting lineup when Real Madrid take on Barcelona on Sunday.

Real Madrid will be hoping to reclaim their place atop the La Liga table when they play hosts to Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night. And, Zinedine Zidane does not have any fresh injury concerns to contend with ahead of his side’s latest fixture.

Long-term absentees Eden Hazard (ankle) and Marco Asensio (knee) are the only injury-enforced absentees, although Asensio could be back around the final week of this month. Rodrygo Goes is the only other player unavailable for Real Madrid, due to suspension, after his bizarre dismissal while playing for Real Madrid Castilla against SS Reyes.

Zidane has all of his resources available in the goalkeeping department, meaning Thibaut Courtois, who has been one of the best goalkeepers in La Liga this season, will take his place between the sticks against Barcelona. Defence is at full strength as well, meaning there should be very little tinkering with the backline.

The only change at the back should see Marcelo coming into the team in place of Ferland Mendy, despite Mendy’s impressive performance against Manchester City. Marcelo will have Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos for company in the Real Madrid defensive line.

Up ahead in midfield, the burning question surrounds the return of Toni Kroos and who he will replace against Barcelona. During his pre-match press conference, Zidane was asked why Kroos did not play for Real Madrid against Manchester City in the Champions League earlier this week.

“Whenever there’s a bad result, you’ll always look for something. Kroos always plays, and he didn’t the other day. These things happen and we didn’t lose the game because Kroos didn’t play. It was a choice the other day, that was all. We don’t need to look for more in it. He’s doing a great job and will continue to do so. I have lots of midfielders and I have to make choices.”Real Madrid

Luka Modric is likely to be the man to make way for Kroos, with Federico Valverde expected to be persisted with for his tenacity. Valverde and Kroos will have Casemiro for company in the middle of the park, with the Brazilian sitting at the base of the three-man midfield unit.

As for attack, apart from Rodrygo, Asensio and Hazard, Luka Jovic also missed out, having been excluded from the 19-man travelling squad to take on Barcelona. Karim Benzema was expected to lead the line for Real Madrid anyway, so Jovic would have made the bench at best. Out wide, Isco and Vinicius Jr. should continue after impressive performances last time out.

Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.

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