Real Madrid welcome Celta Vigo to the Bernabeu on Saturday with Zinedine Zidane on the touchline for the first match of his second stint in charge of the Spanish giants.
Just nine months after the Frenchman’s resignation, catastrophic form saw Florentino Perez sack Santiago Solari and appoint Zidane on a three-year contract.
Real Madrid find themselves 12 points adrift of Barcelona
The new manager could wring the changes as he looks to re-establish his stamp on this Real Madrid squad, which is good news for forgotten men Marcelo and Isco, but bad news for underperforming goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Here’s how Zidane could send his side out for their battle with relegation-threatened Celta Vigo.
Goalkeeper and Defenders
Keylor Navas (GK) – After being relegated to the bench due to the summer arrival of Thibaut Courtois, Zidane’s return could give Navas another chance to establish himself as Real’s number one ‘keeper. A crucial member of Zidane’s triple Champions League winners, Navas has made just seven La Liga appearances this season.
Nacho (RB) – Another player who has struggled this season, Nacho was a firm favourite of Zidane’s and should immediately get a consistent run in the team with Dani Carvajal suffering a muscular injury against Valladolid.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – The Real Madrid captain has appeared 25 times in La Liga this season, proving to be a stalwart under any manager. Fresh off of his infamous suspension against Ajax for getting intentionally booked in the first leg in Amsterdam, Ramos will need to be on top form if Real Madrid are to ensure a happy homecoming for Zidane.
Raphael Varane (CB) – Considered as one of the finest centre-backs in the world since signing for Real Madrid in 2011, Varane finally developed consistency and maturity under Zidane, earning a starting berth in France’s World Cup winning team. Varane has regressed slightly this season, despite making 23 La Liga appearances, and will be hoping that his fellow countryman can get him back to his best.
Marcelo (LB) – A Real Madrid legend, Marcelo was left out in the cold under Solari, making just 14 La Liga appearances this season. Zidane’s arrival should immediately offer Marcelo a chance to reinstate himself as the dominant force on the left side of Real’s defence.
Dani Ceballos (CM) – Ceballos is one of the few Real Madrid players who flourished under Solari, already making 20 La Liga appearances this season compared to just 12 last campaign. Although there has been conflict in the past between the young centre midfielder and his new manager, Ceballos has matured considerably this season and suspension to Casemiro leaves Zidane with a dearth of other options.
Toni Kroos (CM) – The German midfielder was one of the first names on the teamsheet under Zidane and that didn’t change this season as Kroos has accumulated 20 La Liga appearances despite suffering numerous injuries. Questions have been asked about the World Cup winner’s form over the past few months, but he will be a lynchpin of Zidane’s side as he looks to get back to their best.
Luka Modric (CM) – The Ballon D’or winner described Real Madrid’s double defeat to Barca and elimination from the Champions League as the “most difficult week” of his career. After guiding Croatia to the World Cup Final, Modric has seen the wheels fall off around him at the Bernabeu, despite making 26 La Liga appearances. With Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, Modric is the centre-piece of this Real Madrid side both through his leadership and immense talent.
Isco (AM) – After a scintillating season in which Isco made 30 La Liga appearances under Zidane, the attacking midfielder has been completely frozen out under Solari starting just five league matches this term. Desperately in need of a creative spark, Zidane should turn to Isco to help revive his ailing side.
Marco Asensio (AM) – Asensio developed into a superstar under Zidane, making 32 La Liga appearances last season in a campaign filled with stunning moments. This season that genius seems to have disappeared, as the attacker has scored just one La Liga goal. A clear favourite of Zidane there is considerable hope that the Frenchman’s return will reignite Asensio’s floundering form.
Karim Benzema (ST) – Benzema, a gifted striker, but not a truly prolific goalscorer was given the impossible task of replacing Ronaldo’s goals this season. While the Frenchman has not been able to reach those heights, he has been typically dependable, scoring 13 times in 27 La Liga appearances. Zidane will be hoping to spark the attack around Benzema with the striker retaining his crucial role in the side.