Zinedine Zidane
Zidane faces his first El Clasico as Real Madrid manager on Saturday. Getty Images

Real Madrid has been plagued by injury during the last two seasons but it looks as though Zinedine Zidane will have all XI players for the trip to Barcelona on 2 April. Stars like Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Marcelo and Sergio Ramos have contributed to the club's disappointing campaign by missing a number of important games due to fitness issues, both under former manager Rafael Benitez and with their current French boss.

The dreaded FIFA virus has not had major impact on Real Madrid this time and Los Blancos will arrive at El Clasico with no excuses – but with a selection headache for Zidane.


Raphael Varane could miss the trip to Barcelona after he picked up an injury later on in the week that forced him to miss the Friday training session. Yet, his likely absence will have not a big impact in Zidane's plans as the young Frenchman was expected to be on the bench anyway.

Varane sat the heart of defence, alongside Nacho Fernandez, in the last Los Blancos victory over Sevilla, one that saw Pepe and Sergio Ramos suspended. Despite Varane appearing as a favourite, Zidane will no doubt rely on the experience of Pepe and Ramos to block the Barcelona MSN trio on Saturday.

The rest of Real Madrid has avoided injury on international duty, and players such as Gareth Bale and Marcelo have taken advantage of the time to improve fitness.

Los Blancos are 10 points behind Barcelona in the table but have a slim chance of winning the title with just eight games remaining. Yet, Zidane no doubt welcomes that the injury crisis at Santiago Bernabeu is over, almost as if on cue for a trip to their rivals. His side need a positive result, if not a victory, to make up for the 4-0 humiliation suffered against Barcelona in the first El Clasico of La Liga, with current Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez at the helm.


Toni Kroos picked up a knock during the Friday training session and had a check-up with Real Madrid doctors but then played down concerns minutes later and returned to work.

Sergio Ramos' participation in the visit to Barcelona came under scrutiny earlier in the week after the captain was withdrawn from the Spain squad due to a back problem, he returned to Madrid following the friendly 1-1 draw with Italy but missed the following game with Romania. He has participated in the last Real Madrid training sessions with Zidane and is set to lead the backline against Barcelona.


Bale, Benzema and Marcelo have taken advantage of the international break to regain full fitness while training with Zidane at the Real Madrid ground, returning to work after a spell on the side-lines earlier this month. The key trio will travel to Barcelona fresh and ready for the line-up.

Casemiro, meanwhile, also missed some training session earlier during the international break but a minor fitness issue will not prevent him for playing El Clasico.

Expected line-up

Keylor Navas, Danilo, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema

Zidane potential dilemmas

Dani Carvajal or Danilo

The Brazilian looks like he's ahead in the manager's pecking order but Zidane could give the Spaniard a chance. Danilo, nevertheless, returned to Madrid later in the week following his international duty with Brazil while Carvajal didn't make the Spanish squad this time.

James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez has fallen out of favour at Real Madrid this season Reuters

James Rodriguez and Isco

The Colombian international has excelled on international duty and even sent a message to Zidane telling him that he needs to play to prove his worth. However, Zidane looks ready to use Casemiro rather than Rodriguez, holding the midfield behind Luka Modric and Kroos to offer the BBC more scope (with Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo on the attack). Nevertheless, Real Madrid beat Sevilla 4-0 just before the international break with that 4-3-3 formation while they lost 4-0 against Barcelona in the first El Clasico of La Liga when Benitez opted to use a more offensive and unbalance line-up featuring all the BBC and James.

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