When Barcelona visit Real Madrid on Saturday, 245 days will have passed since Zinedine Zidane last named Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo together in his line-up, back on 23 April 2017 - coincidentally, in a clash against Los Blancos' opponents this weekend. Eight months later, all three players are fully fit, and the Frenchman has the option of fielding the 'BBC' if he so wishes.
Zidane minded to pick Isco over Bale in El Clásico
However, Zidane began Real's El Clásico preparations this week with the initial plan of fielding the XI that began the Champions League final in Cardiff, with Isco getting the nod ahead of Bale. Los Merengues' training session on Tuesday served to demonstrate that, having appeared off the bench at the Club World Cup, the Welshman is back at 100% and ready to start. Now it's down to Zidane to decide, although the indications are that he'll opt for Isco.
Thus far, though, Real Madrid's head coach has always maintained that the 'BBC' are "non-negotiable" for him, and having all three back in his team is an idea that he's tempted by. Even if he ends up going for Isco against Barça, 'Zizou' will have a decision to make in the games to come over whether to sacrifice the former Málaga midfielder for the sake of the big-name trio.
Bale return likely to refuel Benzema debate
And with Bale returning to contention, the debate over Benzema is sure to acquire renewed impetus: the French striker has just five goals and three assists to his name in 1,422 minutes of action in 2017/18. Despite not playing as a centre-forward, Isco has scored as many as the 30-year-old, and supplied two more assists, in the 1,677 minutes that he has featured for.
Barcelona sweating on Jordi Alba fitness
In-form left-back Jordi Alba was unable to train with the Barcelona group on Wednesday, having been substituted in the Blaugrana's win over Deportivo La Coruña at the weekend. You can read more about that here.