As Real Madrid gear up to face off against Valencia this coming Saturday, they have a few fresh injury and fitness concerns to cope with.
Kepa Arrizabalaga suffered an injury during warm-up ahead of last night’s UEFA Champions League clash against SC Braga and is ruled out for a period of two to three weeks.
Meanwhile, Dani Ceballos’ recovery also seems to be going slower than anticipated as he is yet to rejoin team training.
Jude Bellingham still not fully fit
The biggest concern, perhaps, for Real Madrid is the condition of star midfielder Jude Bellingham.
The 20-year-old England midfielder suffered a shoulder injury after a nasty fall early in last weekend’s goalless draw with Rayo Vallecano.
Even though there were question marks over his availability last night against Braga, the ex-Borussia Dortmund ace was included in the matchday squad, although he remained an unused substitute.
The Athletic is now reporting that Bellingham is still dealing with some discomfort in his shoulder and will be evaluated prior to Real Madrid’s match against Valencia on Saturday.
Since the incident, the England international has been training with a brace on his shoulder and will speak to coach Carlo Ancelotti about his availability for Saturday’s clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Bellingham has become a crucial player for Real Madrid since joining the club and has been the team’s chief source of goals.
However, last night, the Merengues showed that they can cope with his absence, with Brahim Diaz stepping up in a big way.
As such, it will not come as a surprise to see Ancelotti & co. decide not to risk the England star for the Valencia clash and ease him back into action once the international break is out of the way.
Official: Real Madrid starting lineup against Napoli | UCL GW 5
Real Madrid are back in the Champions League following their impressive win against Cadiz on the weekend as they host Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu for gameweek five.
They have already secured qualification to the round of 16, and even a point today would secure first place in the group.
With several players still injured, Carlo Ancelotti has opted for his best available starting lineup, with Daniel Carvajal taking responsibility of the captain’s armband at right-back. He will be aided by Ferland Mendy, who starts on the other side.
Meanwhile, in between them, David Alaba returns to the fold as the starting centre-back, partnering Antonio Rudiger. This duo has the responsibility of screening Andriy Lunin, who continues in goal in Kepa and Thibaut Courtois’ absence.
With both Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni out, Toni Kroos gets the chance to play as the holding midfielder for two games in a row. Federico Valverde retains his spot, as well, while Dani Ceballos comes in for the injured Luka Modric in central midfield.
Rodrygo will spearhead the team’s frontline as one of the two twin forwards, while Brahim Diaz gets the nod over Joselu. Jude Bellingham is the final, and arguably the most important piece of the puzzle, playing behind the front-two.
Confirmed Madrid XI: Lunin; Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Valverde, Kroos, Ceballos; Bellingham; Diaz, Rodrygo