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Zidane set to hand Mariano full debut at Cultural Leonesa

Although Real Madrid are still likely to loan Mariano out in January, Zidane wants to give the reserve striker a chance to shine in the Copa del Rey.

Mariano, a la izquierda, bromea con sus compañeros.

Cultural Leonesa v Real Madrid live

Mariano will make his full official debut for Real Madrid on Wednesday night as Zinedine Zidane’s side face Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey fourth round.

The Dominican-born striker has already appeared for Los Blancos this season against Celta, although that was only a 13-minute cameo from the bench.

With the BBC rested for the cup-match in León, Zidane is set to hand the 20-year old his first start for the club since making a big impression on the coach during Madrid’s preseason tour of North America.

Mariano still set for January loan

Mariano made an appearance from the bench against Celta
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Mariano made an appearance from the bench against Celta

It was the club’s original intention to send the young forward out on loan this summer in order to gain greater first-team experience, however, owing to his good performances on tour and the injury to Karim Benzema, Madrid decided to keep hold of the player.

Mariano though is behind in the pecking order for the number-nine position to Morata as well as Benzema, meaning the Copa del Rey clash might be one of the only chances he gets to start a game for the foreseeable future. For that reason, Madrid are said to be keen to loan Mariano out in January.

Chance for Morata and Vazquez 

Nevertheless, against Cultural Leonesa on Wednesday night Mariano will have an opportunity to show what he can do, along with a number of other players who’ve struggled to get a start this season, namely Morata, Lucas Vázquez and Nacho. Those three have won more merits than actual minutes so far, and will be eager to lay down their credentials for a regular place in Zidane’s starting 11 against the Segunda B side.

Kiko Casilla will also return in place of the rested Keylor Navas, while there will too be space in the team for both James and Asensio, who didn’t make an appearance versus Athletic on Sunday.


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