Karim Benzema misses out again while Marco Asensio and Vinicius Jr. should start when Real Madrid take on Atalanta in the UEFA Champions League.
Real Madrid will be hoping to build on their winning run when they lock horns with Atalanta in the first leg of their Round of 16 UEFA Champions League tie on Wednesday night.
Heading into the game, Zinedine Zidane has been dealt with a huge blow as star striker Karim Benzema, who missed the weekend’s La Liga clash against Real Valladolid, hasn’t been able to recover in time and does not make the trip to Bergamo. He joins key players Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Eden Hazard out on the sidelines.
In addition, the likes of Federico Valverde, Marcelo, Rodrygo Goes, Eder Militao and Alvaro Odriozola are all unavailable for selection as well, leaving Zidane take quite a few youth players in the squad for the Atalanta encounter.
Reflecting on the absentees and the current situation of his squad, Zidane, in his pre-match presser, said: “There’s no reasonable explanation to it. We’re all sorry not to have the injured players with us. We’ve got the players who are here and we’ll try and go out there and win the game. As always, we’ll go out there to try and win, we’ll never be satisfied with anything less.”
Given the circumstances, there are unlikely to be any changes made to the side that narrowly defeated Real Valladolid in the league game at the weekend. Thibaut Courtois is the undisputed starter in goal for Real Madrid while Raphael Varane and Nacho ought to form the centre-back pairing once again.
Ferland Mendy should continue at left-back while Lucas Vazquez picks himself at right-back in the absence of both Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola.
The midfield trident of Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos has been carrying Real Madrid all by themselves in the recent four-game winning streak amidst all the injuries. They are certain to start against Atalanta and will be crucial to the Merengues’ chances of bagging a pivotal away win.
Up ahead in attack, given the limited options at Zidane’s disposal, Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior are obvious starters out on the flanks although Isco and youngster Sergio Arribas could be options for the manager to consider. In the centre-forward slot, Mariano Diaz is the only senior at Zidane’ disposal and should start.
Predicted Real Madrid XI: Courtois; Vazquez, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Diaz, Vinicius Jr.