Real Madrid will come up against their biggest test of the 2023/24 season so far this weekend when they lock horns with neighbours Atletico Madrid.
However, they will once again have to face the challenge without one of their main players in the form of Vinicius Jr, reports Sergio Quirante.
No risks with Vinicius
Vinicius picked up an injury during Real Madrid’s third La Liga game of the season against Celta Vigo, following which he was subbed off.
The 23-year-old has since missed the last three matches against Getafe, Real Sociedad, and Union Berlin.
Reports earlier this week suggested that Vinicius had resumed training individually with the ball, which gave hopes that the attacker might make an early comeback in time for the derby against Atletico.
The Brazilian international has worked very hard to try and bring forward his return date and is closing in on making a comeback.
But Real Madrid are not prepared to take any risks with their star attacker. As such, he will not be rushed back for the derby against Atletico Madrid this week.
Who else will be absent?
Apart from Vinicius, Real Madrid are set to be without four other players, as Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao, Arda Guler, and Dani Carvajal are also out with injuries.
Guler is close to a return, with the Turkish wonderkid expected to resume training with the team on Monday. As for Carvajal, he will undergo fresh scans tomorrow to determine the extent of his injury.
Atletico Madrid, too, have some injuries heading into the game, with young prospect Pablo Barrios among those set to be unavailable for the derby.
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