Real Madrid will take on Madrid local rivals Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Los Blancos made it to the final four of the competition after they defeated Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich 6-3 on aggregate, with Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo netting 5 of the 6 goals. Atletico Madrid come into the game on the back of a hard fought 2-1 win over Valencia in the La Liga over the weekend and will be looking to take a big step towards their third Champions League final in four seasons, by trouncing their derby rivals at home.
As far as the team news is concerned, Raphael Varane is fit again and will be available for selection for the huge clash. However, However, they will be without the services of centre-back Pepe and star winger Gareth Bale. No other injury or suspension concerns for Madrid.
Here is how they could take the field against Diego Simeone’s Los Rojiblancos:
Probable Real Madrid Starting XI:
Manager: Zinedine Zidane
Keylor Navas (GK)
The Costa Rican international has been the preferred option in goal, ahead of Kiko Casilla. He will continue in goal for this gigantic clash.
Dani Carvajal (RB)
One of Madrid’s most consistent performers this season, the Spaniard will be key with his forward forays, if they are to break down a stubborn Atletico defence.
While Varane’s return comes as a boost, Zidane will look to stick with Nacho in the heart of the defence. The centre-half has stepped up brilliantly in recent weeks and will look to keep the likes of Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann quiet.
Sergio Ramos (CB)
Nacho will be partnered by captain Sergio Ramos at the back. He will have to be at the top of his game and curb his natural aggression to avoid risking a bad result.
The hero for Madrid against Valencia with a late winner last weekend, the left-back will once again have a huge role to play if Los Blancos are to get a head start in the two-legged tie.
Luka Modric (CM)
The Croatian is often the beating heart of the Madrid midfield with his energy and guile he brings to the table. Has the ability to unlock the opposition, which will be crucial against a resolute Atletico rearguard.
Madrid’s midfield enforcer. The Brazilian will look to build on his impressive season so far with another tenacious display in the middle of the park.
Toni Kroos (CM)
The midfield trio will be completed by the German international Toni Kroos. His calming influence along with his set-piece delivery could come in extremely handy on Tuesday night.
The former Malaga man was rested for the weekend’s fixture, but expect him to return to the fold for the semi-finals in place of James Rodriguez.
Cristiano Ronaldo (LW)
Real Madrid’s MVP, Ronaldo carried the team to the semi-finals almost single-handedly with two stellar displays against Bayern. Having found the back of the net over the weekend again, he will look to continue his excellent form and give his team an advantage going into the second leg.
Alvaro Morata (ST)
The Spaniard has scored 18 goals in all competitions this season – one goal more than Karim Benzema despite having made much fewer starts compared to the Frenchman. Zidane needs to make a big call and drop Benzema for this one, especially after another ineffective display against Valencia on Saturday.