Three of Real Madrid’s four center-backs will not be available against Valencia this Sunday —22:15 CET—. Raphael Varane, Jesús Vallejo —both injured— and Sergio Ramos with a suspension will all miss the game, meaning that the French coach has an interesting decision to make in week 2 of La Liga. Here are the options he has.
-A Defensive Midfielder alongside Nacho. This would allow Madrid to maintain their preferred 4-4-2 formation. Casemiro or Marcos Llorente would be the men for this job, although Zidane might decide to keep the Brazilian player in his usual spot in the midfield. However, it’s also true that the French coach could also start Casemiro alongside Nacho in the back with Mateo Kovacic playing as a defensive midfielder and the Modric-Kroos duo controlling the tempo in the center of the park. Kovacic played in Casemiro’s role just two weeks ago when Barcelona visited the Bernabeu and performed very well, so this option could be Zidane’s favorite right now. It would be a huge blow to Marcos Llorente’s expectations, though, because the Spanish stopper probably expects to start.
-Tejero. Real Madrid canterano Álvaro Tejero will almost certainly make the team’s squad list just in case another pure defender gets injured during the game but he should be starting on the bench. It would be shocking to see Zidane trusting this young and inexperienced player in such a meaningful game without giving him a chance to get meaningful minutes as a reserve first.
-A weird three-man defensive line. Carvajal, Nacho and Marcelo with Lucas Vazquez and Achraf playing in the flanks. Carvajal and Marcelo don’t have neither the experience nor the defensive instinct to play in the center of the team’s defensive line, so this option doesn’t seem very likely.
How to watch
Time: 22:15 CET, 04:15pm EST, 01:15 pm Pacific.
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.
Available Streaming: BeIN Sports (USA), Fubo.TV (EVERY Real Madrid game with a high-quality and legal stream, click here to sign up and benefit from a summer discount for new members and Managing Madrid readers).