Luka Modric and Vinicius Jr. are in line to return while Martin Odegaard will be in contention to feature when Real Madrid take on Valencia on Sunday.

Real Madrid will hope to enter the final international break of the year with a third successive win when they lock horns with Valencia at the Mestalla on Sunday night. And, Zinedine Zidane has greeted a mix of good and bad news ahead of his side’s latest fixture.

The good news comes in the form of Martin Odegaard’s return to fitness following his recovery from an injury. The young midfielder has been included in the travelling squad and will be in contention to take on Valencia. However, Real Madrid have made the trip to the Mestalla without Casemiro and Eden Hazard, both of whom are in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Casemiro and Hazard are the latest after Eder Militao to contract COVID-19 and the trio are now expected to return following the international break. The other absentees for Real Madrid are Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Odriozola and Nacho.

The continued absence of the aforementioned defensive trio means that Lucas Vazquez will once again be the makeshift right-back. On the opposite flank, Ferland Mendy is expected to start ahead of Marcelo once again. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are the only fit centre-backs at Zidane’s disposal and will pair up at the heart of the Real Madrid defence, with Thibaut Courtois in goal.

Up ahead in midfield, Casemiro’s absence means Luka Modric should return to the starting lineup to accompany Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde in the middle of the park, while Odegaard will be an option off the bench. During his pre-match press conference, Zidane had words of praise for Modric and his longevity.

The Real Madrid boss said, “He’s not just any old player, he’s a role model. He’s very important within the team and I’ve got no doubts about what a good player he is. We’re here to do things well altogether.”

Zidane also provided an update on Odegaard, saying, “His knee is now better and he’ll be part of the squad. We’re aware of his quality, he’s only just come in and we have to give him time. He hurt himself and the most important thing is that he gets back to 100%, as he is, and that he gradually adapts to the situation and the team.”Real Madrid

Finally, in attack, Karim Benzema is a certainty to lead the line for Real Madrid against Valencia. Flanking him on Sunday should be Brazilian prodigies Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo Goes, with Marco Asensio making way after a sub-par performance against Inter Milan earlier this week.

Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Vazquez, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde, Modric, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.

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