Real Madrid

Real Madrid round-up: Morata, Benzema, Marcelo, Navas, Zidane

Making the most of pitch time, management decisions, and youth team ambitions all make today's summary as the first team get back to training.

Real Madrid round-up: Morata, Benzema, Marcelo, Navas, Zidane
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce Getty Images

The number nine

Forgetting the digit that is actually printed on their shirts, the debate about who will be the main striker this year is hotting up. With Benzema only playing 59 minutes since May, mainly due to injuries, it is the returning Morata that has been clocking up the minutes, 366 to be precise. In that time he has only scored once – in the Bernabéu Trophy – so he will be hoping to impress both manager and fans with more strikes ahead of the Frenchman being back to match sharpness.

Benzema working towards getting his place back.

Back to the work

Today the Madrid first team squad will return to Valdebebas at 10:00 to start their preparation for their next game, at home to Celta Vigo on the 27 August. Zidane had given the players a day off to rest and will now take advantage of no mid-week games to work with the team.

Keeper options

Although Keylor Navas has become a firm favourite with the fans – following the De Gea signing saga – his injury at the end of the last campaign has meant that Kiko Casilla has been given an opportunity to impress. Although we expect Navas to return to the squad for selection mid-September, Casilla can add more pitch time to the 470 minutes already accumulated. It is unlikely that Keylor would not be returned to his place between the posts as soon as he is fully fit, however, Zidane will be hoping that a healthy competition between the two drives even better performances and gives him sound cover as required. Don’t be surprised to see Kiko in the cup.

Kiko trying to build a strong defensive unit with Ramos while Keylor recovers.

Game time

Although Zidane has chopped and changed the players at his disposal leading up to the first game of the season, those that he will look to rely on most are starting to show in terms of minutes played. Marcelo leads the way with 439 minutes since the holidays ended and Casemiro (423) and Varane (408) follow closely behind. Clearly it is too early to tell how this will continue especially as some of the top names – including Cristiano and Pepe - come back into the reckoning, but we’re starting to see the vision that the French coach has for the first team.

Marcelo clocking up the minutes against La Real.

Young guns

Today the Madrid youth side, Juvenil C, will play in the final of the Madrid Youth Cup. They will face Rayo Vallecano B at 20:00 local time.