Eden Hazard misses out yet again while Eder Militao and Vinicius Junior are in line for a start when Real Madrid face Barcelona on Saturday.
Real Madrid will be aiming to close the gap to the top of the table when they lock horns with bitter rivals Barcelona in the second El Clasico of the 2020/21 La Liga season at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano this weekend.
Heading into the game, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane will be deprived of the services of key men Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal with injuries while Raphael Varane misses out after testing positive for coronavirus. Eden Hazard has also been omitted from the 19-man squad named by Zidane as the Belgian continues to battle fitness issues.
Speaking of Hazard’s exclusion in his pre-match presser, Zidane said, “It doesn’t depend on the national team or Real Madrid, it’s the player’s decision. It’s part of the recovery process and his feelings are very important.”
While the Real Madrid manager will have an eye on the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg tie against Liverpool on his mind when selecting the team, given the importance of Saturday’s clash, Zidane is unlikely to make any changes to the side that took the field in midweek.
Meaning, Thibaut Courtois continues in goal for the home team against Barcelona while Lucas Vazquez and Ferland Mendy continue to operate as the full-backs. In Ramos and Varane’s absence, it will once again be Nacho and Eder Militao pairing up at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. The latter was praised by the manager ahead of the game for his impressive displays of late.
“He’s a very young player and he’s learning a lot. He’s improving every day and that’s good because he’s a player for the present and the future. We’re happy to have him with us,” Zidane said of Militao.
The midfield trio of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro picks itself, with the likes of Federico Valverde and Isco being options from the bench if needed.
In attack, there is no looking past Karim Benzema for the centre-forward slot while Marco Asensio has nailed down the right flank for himself after his recent run of goals. On the left, Vinicius Jr. should get the nod again over compatriot Rodrygo Goes following his heroics in the triumph over Liverpool in the Champions League.
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Vazquez, Militao, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.