Real Madrid manager Zidane will look to repeat the same starting side that played against neighbours Atlético in the Champions League final 2016 in Milan. Just 315 days after lifting the Undécima, with their local rivals looking on, the French coach still appears to have strong belief in those that won club football's greatest prize, the first of his reign.
The challenge that faces Zidane is that in sending out this line-up at the Bernabéu on Saturday afternoon, he will be making seven changes to the side that played in the game at Butarque in a 2-4 against Leganés. The so-called replacements have shown themselves to be capable and have impressed many with their team spirit and togetherness on the pitch. Those remaining in the side would be goalkeeper Keylor Navas, defenders Sergio Ramos and Marcelo, and Brazilian midfielder Casemiro.
Cristiano and Bale left behind
Kroos, Bale and Cristiano didn't travel with the squad for the midweek game and were clearly being left behind to ensure freshness for what was seen as the bigger, and more difficult challenge. The manager's intentions were further shown with Carvajal, Pepe and Benzema on the bench and not given any playing time in Leganés. Modric did come on in what was the team's third substitution but only for the final 10 minutes.
With questions still being asked about a first XI that includes the BBC, the numbers back up this expected decision by Zidane. Real Madrid have played seven times with this starting side, winning five and drawing once. This season, though, that team has only been fielded twice: with two important victories, away to Villarreal and Napoli.
Zidane has a full squad to choose from - other than Varane - and plenty of creative choices available depending on how he wants to approach the derby. And although Lucas Vázquez, Isco, James and Morata have been used in the forward positions more than Asensio, the performance of the young Spaniard in his last outing may have Zidane looking at him as a different threat.
Confirmed team news will be out on Saturday afternoon ahead of the 16:15 (CEST) kick off. As always, AS English will have this and all other related news for you in the build up to our live coverage.
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