Real Madrid Vs. Athletic Bilbao, La Liga 2012: Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira Could Feature

Denis Doyle

With a number of key players back from injury, Real Madrid has better options for its line-up, while Athletic is hit by suspensions and injury.

Last week Sami Khedira and Karim Benzema were not training, while German International Mesut Ozil injured his ankle on Levante's sodden pitch. A week later, all have returned and were training normally while Michael Essien, who appears to have picked up a slight muscle strain, was unable to train.

When Mourinho picks his first 11 and decides on his substitutions he is bound to have half an eye on next week's fixture in the Champions League (away) against Manchester City. So it will be interesting to see if he chooses to start Sami Khedira for match practice, which could be a risk, or substitute him in.

A similar question surrounds Karim Benzema. Madrid played Levante with no striker. Gonzalo Higuain remains injured and is expected to be unable to practice for another 2 weeks. Benzema will almost certainly start next week against the Citizens. Whether or not he'll play tomorrow is anyone's guess.

In today's press conference a final question was cleared up: Cristiano Ronaldo and his availability. Aitor Karanka, who did the pre-match press conference in Mourinho's place, confirmed most Madridista's suspicions: "Cristiano has to be in a very bad way to not be on the pitch. Tomorrow he'll show that."

For Athletic, Amorebieta is almost certainly out with a hip injury, though he is in Bielsa's squad. De Marcos and Herrera are suspended. We can therefore expect that Athletic will line up as follows: Iraizoz; Iraola, San José, Ekiza, Aurtenetxe; Gurpegui; Susaeta, Iturraspe, Muniain, Ibai Gómez; and Aduriz.

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