In a press conference on Monday Real Madrid coach José Mourinho confirmed that French center midfielder Lassana Diarra will start in Madrid's UEFA Champions League clash against Dynamo Zagreb on Tuesday, while Turkish center midfielder Nuri Sahin is likely to play alongside of him. This would be the Turkish phenom's first start for Real Madrid since his much-talked-about transfer from German side Borussia Dortmund this summer.
The idea behind these moves, Madrid daily Marca theorizes, is to grant Xabi Alonso some much-needed rest: the Spanish playmaker has been on the pitch more than any Madrid player other than goalkeeper Iker Casillas, and is, apparently, incredibly tired. This news is not surprising: Real Madrid has already qualified for the next round of the Champions League, and their upcoming ties against Zagreb and Ajax are mere formalities.
If Sahin does start, this match will be a critical test in his development as a Real Madrid player: his first start, at home, in the Champions League--it doesn't get much more imposing than that! Whether he thrives or breaks under the pressure should tell Mourinho and madridistas everywhere a lot about his mental and physical fitness.