Eder Militao will come in for the injured Sergio Ramos while Casemiro is set to return as well when Real Madrid take on Shakhtar Donetsk.
Real Madrid will be eager to return to winning ways and kick off their UEFA Champions League campaign on a positive note when they play hosts to Shakhtar Donetsk at the Alfred Di Stefano Stadium on Wednesday night. Zinedine Zidane, though, has a major injury concern to contend with ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
Sergio Ramos misses Los Blancos‘ opening Champions League fixture due to a knock he picked up against Cadiz this past weekend. The Real Madrid captain has, therefore, been omitted from the matchday squad, which continues to miss the presence of Alvaro Odriozola, Dani Carvajal and Eden Hazard.
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The big talking point during Zidane’s pre-match press conference was invariable Ramos and the Real Madrid manager confirmed that the Spaniard has been excluded as a precautionary measure ahead of this weekend’s El Clasico against Barcelona.
Zidane said, “Sergio [Ramos] has a knock, he didn’t train with us this morning because we didn’t want to risk him. We’ll see what happens tomorrow but he couldn’t train normally today.”
With Ramos unavailable, Eder Militao will get a rare chance to impress. The Brazilian will pair up with Raphael Varane at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. Meanwhile, Odriozola and Carvajal’s continued absence means Nacho starts as the right-back once again, with Ferland Mendy coming in for Marcelo on the left flank. In goal, there is no looking past Thibaut Courtois.
Up ahead in midfield, a few rotations might be in order, with Luka Modric set to be given a breather ahead of El Clasico. In his stead, Federico Valverde will start, while Casemiro will come in for Isco. Casemiro’s return means Toni Kroos will reprise the no. 8 role after sitting at the base of the three-man midfield last week.
Finally, in attack, the big question is whether Zidane will rest Karim Benzema ahead of the big game against Barcelona. The Real Madrid boss was not quizzed on that prospect but gave an update on Hazard, who has resumed light training.
“He’s back out on the pitch, the only thing is, his injury was more severe than we first thought. I have full trust in the people who work here with us. I hope we’ll see him back with us soon. The key thing for us is to get him back and fit for the whole season.”
In Hazard’s continued absence, Rodrygo Goes, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Jr. will vie for the two wide berths. Against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, Rodrygo and Asensio ought to get their chance. As for the central striker role, Benzema could indeed be rested, with Jovic leading the line for Real Madrid.
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Nacho, Varane, Eder Militao, Mendy; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Jovic, Rodrygo