Luka Modric will return to the starting lineup, but Karim Benzema remains unavailable for Real Madrid’s clash with RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

Real Madrid will aim to retain the 100 per cent record at the onset of the 2022/23 season when they play hosts to RB Leipzig at the Santiago Bernabeu in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night. And Carlo Ancelotti has a new fitness issue hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture.

Lucas Vazquez sustained a thigh injury this past weekend against RCD Mallorca and will miss out versus RB Leipzig for the midweek clash. The Spaniard has joined Karim Benzema (knee) on the sidelines. And while Eder Militao has resumed training, Ancelotti has omitted the Brazilian from the matchday squad, probably as a precautionary measure.

Ancelotti spoke about Benzema’s recovery during his pre-match press conference. The Real Madrid manager also praised Eden Hazard and Rodrygo Goes for covering for Benzema with aplomb in the last couple of matches.

“He’s [Benzema] coming along well, and there’s a chance he’ll be back for Sunday. He could play against Atlético if there are no doubts. He’s [Hazard] doing what we asked of him over the last two games.”

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“We’ve been able to cover Karim’s absence with Hazard in the first game and the first half of the second game and with Rodrygo in the second game. Hazard performed well, and so did the team. That’s the most important thing. The team has performed because we’ve scored seven goals without Karim.”

Hazard failed to make the most of his opportunity against RCD Mallorca, and he might drop to the bench when Real Madrid and RB Leipzig lock horns on Wednesday. Rodrygo Goes will likely spearhead the Real Madrid attack in that case, with Vinicius Jr. picking himself on the left flank.

Federico Valverde tends to get the nod on the right wing in crunch fixtures, and the Uruguayan international will likely retain that role against RB Leipzig. Luka Modric should take up Valverde’s vacated spot in the middle of the park, with Aurelien Tchouameni joining Modric and Toni Kroos in the midfield unit.

As for the defence, Militao’s continued absence from the squad means Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba will form the central defensive unit. Dani Carvajal will replace the injured Vazquez at right-back, with Ferland Mendy continuing on the left flank. Finally, there is no looking past Thibaut Courtois between the sticks against RB Leipzig.

Predicted Real Madrid XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Tchouameni, Kroos; Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius

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