With less than a week to go until Real Madrid resume their LaLiga campaign, we look at the best starting XI available to Zinedine Zidane for next Sunday’s clash against Eibar.
Thibaut Courtois – Madrid’s undisputed no.1, only rested for cup competitions to give Alphonse Areola a run-out, the Belgian is expected to be between the sticks for Madrid’s remaining matches in all competitions.
Dani Carvajal – With Zidane expected to continue with a back four, Carvajal will be a shoo-in for the right-back role, adding plenty of energy down the right flank in Madrid’s attacks, too.
Sergio Ramos – ‘El Capitán’ will be amongst the first names down on the team sheet, leading his men back into battle.
Raphael Varane – While captain Ramos has far from had an errorless campaign so far this season, Varane has provided more security and, just as importantly, pace at the back.
Marcelo – The Brazilian has battled for a starting role at left-back with Ferland Mendy all season. Undoubtedly offering more in attack, Marcelo has looked less convincing in defence but will rely on some of his teammates in midfield to help out at the back. Madrid have lacked goals somewhat this season and will rely on Marcelo in the attacking third.
Casemiro – Madrid’s midfield rock. Can also play in defence and his understanding with Marcelo and Ramos will be crucial when the pair sometimes join the attacks, leaving Casemiro to plug the gap at the back.
Toni Kroos – Madrid’s pass master, the one who pulls the strings. The German has the. best passing stats in LaLiga so far this season and his movement and passing will be key in keeping the Madrid machine ticking.
Luka Modric – Fede Valverde has been superb. so far this season but experience could be crucial in the final furlong, both due to the circumstances and due to the title run-in. The break will have given Modric the time to rest some tired legs and he will be the more attacking of Madrid’s three-man midfield.
Karim Benzema – Los Blancos’ main goal threat. With Luka Jovic also injured, all eyes will be on the Frenchman to get the goals.
Eden Hazard – The break in play has allowed Hazard to return to full fitness, joining in with his teammates in training since the return to action. Hazard is fully fit and although suffering a poor start to his career in the capital, all that could change should the Belgian find the magic in attack. He should also help out Benzema on the goal front.
Gareth Bale – The final man in the three-pronged attack will be tricky with Marco Asensio making himself available. Asensio, injured last summer, is available but there will be caution in throwing him straight back into competitive action. Bale is fit, ready and should be given the nod for the opening game or two.