Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that Marcelo will be on the sidelines for the crunch derby against Atletico Madrid on Saturday (27 February), alongside Alvaro Arbeloa and long-term injury absentees Gareth Bale and Pepe. Karim Benzema, meanwhile, is available after missing the draw against Malaga. The manager has also included academy starlet Borja Mayoral in the 19-man squad.
Los Blancos face a key match in what may be their last chance to rekindle their faint hopes of winning La Liga, after a draw with Malaga last weekend left them nine points behind Barcelona and one behind Atletico Madrid, who were held to a stalemate in their previous game with Villarreal.
Zidane has now confirmed that he will be without a key asset after Marcelo was left out of the squad with a calf injury. Reports suggest the Brazil international faces up to three weeks on the sidelines.
"[Marcelo] had a problem with his calf and we have to be careful with that. That's why he hasn't trained today and he will not be with us [for the game]," Zidane confirmed in apress conference ahead of the match.
Arbeloa, who also missed the Friday training session, is out of the squad as well. Right-back Dani Carvajal is expected to cover the absence of Marcelo in the starting line-up, with Danilo or Nacho playing on the other flank. The game comes too soon for Pepe and Bale, despite the former training with his teammates on Friday.
"Pepe trained with us, Bale trained apart and the rest are OK. We could do what we did with Carvajal in place of Marcelo, but we could also do something else," Zidane confirmed.
Real Madrid's week began with a number of injury fears, after Luca Modric, Dani Carvajal and Isco missed Tuesday's training session. The trio, along with Benzema, have recovered in the interim and are ready for the derby match.
"Benzema is a very important player for the team," the Real Madrid boss said. "He no longer has the problems he had in the last game. He's capable of doing anything. More than his goals, the most important thing is the work he does with his teammates. He links up well, he's motivated and he plays well with the others."
Furthermore, Zidane has rewarded Mayoral with a call-up with the first-team after the 18-year-old striker scored a brace during the midweek 3-1 victory over Manchester City in the Uefa Youth League.
Speaking about the youngster, Zizou said: "He'll be in the squad. He's looking good. He's playing with Castilla and the under 19s. He trains most weeks with us and he's ready."
The Real Madrid manager also played down the notion that defeat on Saturday will end their hopes of winning a first La Liga title since 2012.
"Whatever happens, we won't be saying goodbye to La Liga," he insisted. "We're not going to give up until the end because there are points to play for. I'm honest. If we lose points it's always going to be more complicated. But whatever happens we have more games, we've got the Champions League to concentrate on. Our season doesn't end tomorrow."
Real Madrid squad to face Atletico Madrid:
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Casilla and Yáñez.
Defenders: Varane, Ramos, Nacho, Carvajal and Danilo.
Midfielders: Kroos, James, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric and Isco.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Jesé, Lucas Vázquez and Borja Mayoral.