Casemiro and Eden Hazard have been ruled out while Rodrygo Goes could come in for Vinicius Junior when Real Madrid face Atalanta in the UEFA Champions League.
Real Madrid will be aiming to make it through to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League when they host Atalanta in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano on Tuesday night.
Heading into the game, manager Zinedine Zidane has been handed a double blow as midfield mainstay Casemiro has been ruled out due to suspension for accumulation of cards while Eden Hazard, who returned from injury only this past weekend, has picked up another muscle problem.
Explaining Hazard’s situation in his pre-match presser, Zidane said, “He is not fit to be with us. I hope it’s not much because we have to be positive. Something is happening. He’s a player who’s never been injured or not been injured much in his career and this is a new situation for him. We’re there for him and we want him to get better. I hope he’ll be back with us soon.”
Apart from the aforementioned players, Real Madrid will also be without Alvaro Odriozola, Mariano Diaz as well as Dani Carvajal. Veteran defender Marcelo has been named in the 19-man squad by Zidane after he missed the last game due to an injury.
Zidane opted to set his team up in a three-man defensive unit against Elche last time out and could opt for a similar formation on Tuesday night with Raphael Varane, Nacho and captain Sergio Ramos forming the backline that shields Thibaut Courtois in goal.
Lucas Vazquez remains Real Madrid’s only option at right wing-back in Carvajal and Odriozola’s absence, while Ferland Mendy, who scored the only goal of the game in the first leg, is a certainty on the left side. With Casemiro unavailable, Federico Valverde is expected to take up the holding midfielder duties for Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Both Luka Modric and Toni Kroos did not start at the weekend against Elche but are certain to return to the lineup for the game versus Atalanta. The duo will flank Valverde on either side and act as Real Madrid’s supply-line of chances on the night.
Vinicius Junior started in attack at the weekend but did not do much of note. In contrast, his compatriot Rodrygo Goes looked much brighter after coming on from the bench and could be set for a start here.
“He’s improving a lot. He is a player for the present and future, we know the quality he has with the ball, and technically, what he can do on the pitch and we’re happy with Rodrygo,” Zidane said of the young Brazilian in his pre-match press conference.
The final slot in the attacking unit will obviously be taken up by star man Karim Benzema who has now scored three goals in two games since returning from an injury.
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Varane, Ramos, Nacho; Vazquez, Modric, Valverde, Kroos, Mendy; Rodrygo, Benzema