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Wednesday 3. November 2021 - 15:35

Benzema returns; Vazquez in for Rodrygo

Karim Benzema is back in contention, but Rodrygo misses out with injury as Real Madrid get set to take on Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League.

Real Madrid will lock horns with Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk this Wednesday in Group D of the UEFA Champions League as they look to inch closer towards qualification for the knockout stages.

Heading into the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti has greeted mixed news regarding injuries as Karim Benzema, who missed the weekend La Liga clash, is back in contention, but Rodrygo misses out after picking up a knock in that game. In addition, Federico Valverde, Mariano Diaz, Gareth Bale and Dani Ceballos remain unavailable for selection.

"Rodrygo suffered a little bit of discomfort against Elche and will not be available tomorrow night. It’s only a very minor thing and he’ll be back after the international break. Injuries is just something that generally happens in football. We have to manage that, but for the time being we haven’t had many issues, except Valverde’s knee injury. The team is in pretty good shape," Ancelotti said in his pre-match presser.

With Rodrygo ruled out, the right-wing berth will be up for grabs on Wednesday against Shakhtar, with Lucas Vazquez, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard possible options to start. Given Asensio’s up-and-down form and Hazard’s struggles, Ancelotti may opt to go in with the hard-working Vazquez in the lineup.

The rest of the team pretty much picks itself as Benzema is a shoo-in in the centre-forward slot now that he is fit and available, while Vinicius Junior’s impeccable form makes him a certain starter out on the left flank.

Luka Modric may be in the twilight of his career, but he remains an integral member of this Real Madrid side and is set to start in this vital Champions League clash. The Croatian will have midfield enforcer Casemiro and pass master Toni Kroos for company in the centre of the park, with Eduardo Camavinga an option from the bench.

In defence, there is no looking past the first-choice centre-back pairing of Eder Militao and David Alaba, who have forged a solid partnership this season. Flanking them in the full-back positions should be Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy, on the right and left sides, respectively. Finally, Thibaut Courtois is an undisputed starter between the sticks for Real Madrid.

Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Vazquez, Benzema, Vinicius.

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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