Marco Asensio is in line for a start while Dani Carvajal should drop to the bench when Real Madrid face Rayo Vallecano at home in La Liga on Saturday.

Real Madrid can go to the top of the 2021/22 La Liga standings if they manage to grab all three points when they take on local rivals Rayo Vallecano at the Santiago Bernabeu this weekend.

Heading into the game, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has not been handed any fresh injury headaches. There is some good news with Gareth Bale returning to training while Dani Ceballos is also closing in on a comeback. However, Saturday’s contest against the Franjirrojos comes too soon for the pair.

Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats

“Bale trained with the whole group today, but won’t be in the squad because he hasn’t trained a lot with the team. He’s [Ceballos] been recovering from a major injury and he started training on the grass on his own a few days ago. We need a bit more time for him to be able to train with the team again,” Ancelotti said in his pre-match press conference.

Apart from Bale and Ceballos, Real Madrid are also without Mariano Diaz, Rodrygo Goes and Federico Valverde for the contest. Ancelotti is unlikely to make a host of changes to the team that saw off Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League this week, with Los Blancos expected to line up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Eder Militao and David Alaba are the obvious picks in the centre-back positions for the home team, while Ferland Mendy should edge out Marcelo for a starting berth on the left. However, at right-back, there could be a change made, seeing as Dani Carvajal still does not seem to be at his 100%. Instead, Lucas Vazquez is expected to slot in at right-back after featuring in an advanced position in midweek.

As for the midfield department, Luka Modric, Casemiro, and Toni Kroos are likely to hold on to their places for the visit of Rayo Vallecano, meaning summer signing Eduardo Camavinga will have to suffice with another appearance from the bench.

Moving into the attacking unit, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior, who have been Real Madrid’s best players this season, are certain starters against Rayo Vallecano. With Rodrygo out, the remaining spot will be contested for by Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard. Neither forward has been in good nick, but the former is more suited to playing on the right than the Belgian and should start as a result.

Predicted Real Madrid XI: Courtois, Vazquez, Militao, Alaba, Mendy, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.

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