Julen Lopetegui said in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Espanyol that he would be rotating his squad over a busy period of fixtures that sees Real Madrid playing five times in two weeks.
“It’s normal that the fixture list is like this. When a team is playing in the Champions League it’s the way things are and we have to approach it game-by-game and knowing that the squad depth we have will be used,” Lopetegui noted.
That may open the door for Vinicius Junior to make his senior debut under the Real boss. The 18-year-old Brazilian made four appearances in pre-season, playing 163 minutes, but despite being in the squad for the European Super Cup and the opening Liga fixture against Getafe he has yet to taste senior action, so far being confined to Castilla duty.
Lopetegui did not reveal who would play on Saturday but Álvaro Odriozola will make his debut for Real Madrid following his 30-million-euro summer move from Real Sociedad due to Dani Carvajal’s absence after the starting right back picked up a knock in the Champions League victory over Roma.
Dani Ceballos may also return against Espanyol after lasting just a half in the heat of the 1-1 draw in San Mamés and coming off the bench against Roma, with Mariano also a possible starter on Saturday after his cameo midweek.
Vinicius may be included against Espanyol
“Football is not about the starting XI, in every game there are 14 players and in a squad that wants to win everything everybody is important. No two players are the same and all of them want to put into practice what we are trying to achieve,” Lopetegui added.
Asked if Vinicius, signed for 45 million euros from Flamengo, would be among the squad list for Saturday Lopetegui reiterated his mantra over the 18-year-old: "We will always make decisions based on what we feel is best for the team. We’ll see tomorrow.”
Working in Vinicius’ favour is that Castilla’s game this weekend is away at Cultural Leonesa and Real Madrid’s idea is to ease the Brazilian into life in the capital by having him play only the reserve side’s home games, opening up the possibility of a Bernabéu debut on Saturday.