As Real Madrid gear up for their first game of the 2023/24 La Liga season, manager Carlo Ancelotti has released the squad list that will be available to face Athletic Club on Saturday.
Heading into the season opener, Los Blancos have already been struck down by various injury problems.
Thibaut Courtois is unlikely to play for much of the campaign due to an ACL rupture while Arda Guler is also out for a significant period due to a knee injury that requires surgery.
Meanwhile, Ferland Mendy and Dani Ceballos are also absent from the roster due to fitness issues.
Ancelotti has called up young goalkeepers Lucas Canizares and Fran Gonzalez to the squad to act as cover for Andriy Lunin, who will start in the absence of Courtois.
Alvaro Odriozola, who is linked with a summer exit, makes the list while new signings Jude Bellingham, Fran Garcia, and Joselu all feature along with Brahim Diaz, who is back after a three-year loan stint at AC Milan.
Youngster Nico Paz trained with the first team today but has not been called up by the manager.
Bellingham on his special assist in Girona 0-3 Real Madrid: “Been watching Luka every day”
Real Madrid usurped the top spot in the La Liga standings from arch-rivals FC Barcelona as they defeated Girona 3-0 away at Estadi Montilivi.
It was a fine performance from Carlo Ancelotti’s men against Michel’s side, with the returning Jude Bellingham leading the way for his team.
After being benched against Las Palmas in midweek, the England international returned to the starting XI today and turned in yet another Man of the Match display for Real Madrid.
It all started with Joselu opening the scoring just 15 minutes into the game, with Bellingham assisting the goal with a special, outside-of-the-boot pass from the left side, bringing back memories of Luka Modric doing something similar a few years ago.
Talking about that special pass, Bellingham said: “I’ve been watching Luka every day for months. I just want to be creative. It took the pressure off us at the start.”
On the match and the result, the 20-year-old stated that it was a good day across the board for Real Madrid, as he said: “It was an important win. They were doing very well. We made a statement of intent to La Liga. Three goals, a clean sheet….”
It has been a truly remarkable start to life at Real Madrid for Bellingham and expressing how he feels to play for the Merengues, he exclaimed:
“I feel very good. I have freedom of movement and I’m enjoying football. Whenever I put on this shirt I always try to do my best.”
Apart from assisting Joselu’s opener, Bellingham also got his name on the scoresheet in the second period. Talking about his goal, the wonderkid said:
“It wasn’t a very good finish. I could have scored some more, but the important thing is the victory.”
The strike meant that Bellingham now has seven goals and two assists across all competitions for Real Madrid. Reflecting on his brilliant start, he said:
“It’s a good start, not bad. I would like to continue on this path and I won’t always score or assist, but I will always give my best.”
Bellingham’s celebration has been a huge hit, with kids in school, players from other clubs, and many others mimicking it. When asked how his special celebration originated, he replied:
“I don’t know where I first celebrated. I think it was with Birmingham. It’s an inspiration to see kids doing it in schools. It’s a wonderful thing.”