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Nacho the best fit for Rome in Marcelo's absence

Left-back is the only position Madrid are not well stocked in but Nacho deserves his chance in Italy next week.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Things have suddenly got a bit trickier for Real Madrid ahead of next Wednesday's trip to Rome for their Champions League last-16 clash.

Both Gareth Bale and Marcelo are set to miss the match against the Serie A giants after the Brazilian suffered an injury in Sunday night's victory at Granada. Bale was facing a race against time to be fit for a return to action but a reported setback in his recovery means the derby clash against Atletico Madrid is a more likely target.

Now two of the team's regular first team stars are set to remain in Madrid when Zinedine Zidane takes his troops to the Stadio Olimpico next week. Los Blancos will still be favourites to progress over the two legs but the first duel in Rome will be all the tougher with a somewhat injury-hit squad.

While Zidane has already plugged the gap left by Bale by using James Rodriguez and Isco in his starting eleven in recent weeks, the situation at left-back is not met by such luxurious options.

Jese and Lucas Vazquez could also have come in to replace the Welshman, while the inclusion of Mateo Kovacic or Casemiro allows the possibility for Isco to push further forward. It's fair to say Madrid have an embarrassment of riches throughout their squad but the one position that looks weakest in terms of depth and quality is left-back.

Fabio Coentrao, the man battling for a starting role with Marcelo for years, was allowed to leave on-loan to Benfica in the summer and Madrid opted against bringing in a replacement. At right-back, Danilo came in to offer competition to Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Arbeloa but the defensive options were top-heavy and it was the No.3 role that ended up losing out.

The experienced Arbeloa has played there before but is struggling with a knock and would not get the trust of Madrid fans, not perhaps his coach, playing in that position for such a big match. Pepe has also been training separately from his team-mates, leaving the options pretty thin not only for Saturday's league match against Athletic Club but also for the trip to Italy.

Despite all that, the best man for the job is ready and waiting to get another chance. Nacho has already plugged the gap at left-back in Europe this season and he is more than ready to do it again in Rome.

It is almost as if this season was made to be his in Madrid's search for their eleventh European Cup. The Spaniard played in three of his side's six matches in the Group Stage and has featured just seven times in the league. His first appearance came in the home match against Paris Saint-Germaine, where he replaced Marcelo, and promptly scored the winner within minutes of his arrival.

Nacho was solid throughout the majority of that game, a game in which the French outfit attacked in droves and will have left wondering how they didn't leave with a point. He played the full 90 minutes in both matches against Schechter Donetsk and Malmo, two contrasting performances but two performances that ultimately resulted in six points.

Now his chance is set to come again, against a club who have been linked with his services. Not only will the club's youth product want to do well for himself and for his club, but he may well want to impress potential future employers who could offer him more regular first-team action.

Mohamed Salah and Miralem Pjanic are expected to be the men to face the Spain international down the left side of Madrid's eleven in Rome. With Cristiano Ronaldo not one to track back too often, that means an pressure on players such as Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to help the 26-year-old out when under pressure.

As with other matches this season, the trip to Rome will give the Madrid-born defender another chance to impress Zidane with his future up in the air at the end of the season. While he has shown himself to be solid and dependable, the defender will not cement a regular first-team spot at the Santiago Bernabeu but in a squad full of star names he is the kind of player needed to balance the squad.

Nacho may not stick around beyond the end of the summer but he is the best replacement for Marcelo in Rome. Another goal in the tournament wouldn't go amiss, either.

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