The exit of Zinedine Zidane, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo, proved to be costly for Real Madrid both at home and Europe. The club have been forced to reappoint Zidane as Los Blancos boss after shocking spells of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. The Spanish heavyweights have little to play for this season with only six games remaining, but the gaffer must be aiming for the runners-up position ahead of city rivals Atletico Madrid who are currently having a seven-point buffer (having played a game extra) in the league table.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are set to host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday afternoon and the visitors, who have scripted a late resurgence, would be aiming for a result to be in contention for a place in Europe. The fixture at Santiago Bernabeu is predicted to be an enticing contest, and Zidane would have an uphill task to motivate his men who do not have any specific objective for the remainder of the campaign.
Real Madrid Team News
The Blancos would continue to miss teenager Vinicius Junior who is out with a ruptured knee ligament. Skipper Sergio Ramos suffered a hamstring strain recently and is unlikely to be rushed against the Basque outfit. Thibaut Courtois has a knock, therefore, is doubtful for the weekend contest whereas Mariano Diaz is set for another spell on the sidelines with tendonitis. Toni Kroos, the midfield maestro, is also a doubt after missing out the Leganes tie with gastroenteritis.
Real Madrid Formation
Zidane has always preferred a 4-3-3 set-up during his previous managerial regime and restored the same on his return to script a similar success story.
The Frenchman has brought back Keylor Navas between the sticks and the veteran custodian is expected to retain his place ahead of son Luca Zidane who has been promoted as the understudy to the Costa Rican following Courtois’ fitness concern.
Daniel Carvajal returned against Leganes replacing Alvaro Odriozola and is set to operate from his usual right-back role against Los Leones. Raphael Varane would maintain his colossal presence in the heart of Madrid defence alongside Nacho Fernandez, the versatile Spaniard, who is featuring as a centre-back in place of the injured Ramos. Marcelo would keep his place down the left-hand side of Real’s ‘back four’.
The absence of Toni Kroos is a huge blow, but the emergence of Federico Valverde is indeed a good piece of news for the La Liga giants. The youngster from Uruguay should be handed more minutes from the next term onwards while the experience of Luka Modric and Casemiro alongside him in the middle of the park would help him to flourish furthermore during these remaining gameweeks.
Karim Benzema is enjoying a great scoring run of late and would be spearheading the Blancos’ attack against Gaizka Garitano’s men. Isco should be preferred to operate from the right-hand flank due to his pace, trickery and ability to create chances with his great passing, crossing and distribution attributes. Although they have the experience of Gareth Bale in their attacking third, Zidane should opt for Marco Asensio to bring the youngster back to his absolute best like he used to be in the past couple of campaigns.