REAL MADRID

Solari expected to ring in the changes for Girona visit

Santiago Solari will likely give a number of players a chance to rest after a diificult run of games and with the upcoming double-header Clásicos in mind.

After a demanding few weeks, during which Real Madrid most recently faced Atlético Madrid, Barcelona and Ajax in space of seven days, coach Santiago Solari is expected to rest a number of players for the visit of Girona on Sunday.

One certainty is that Dani Ceballos will come in for Luka Modric, who must see out one-match ban after having picked up five yellow cards.

But Ceballos is unlikely to be the only change: up front, Karim Benzema will be given rest to recover from a knock he sustained against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday. The Frenchman could be directly replaced by Mariano if he has recovered from a hip problem that saw him miss training on Friday.

Although, Solari could also opt to use Asensio in a false nine role, after the Spaniard’s impressive performance off the bench against Ajax, in which he scored Madrid’s second goal to see off the Dutch champions.

Another attacking player expected to return to the starting eleven is Lucas Vazquez, who played 30 minutes off the bench in Amsterdam.

Karim Benzema will be given rest to recover from a knock he sustained against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday

Defensive changes

In the centre of defence, Rafael Varane will likely return pending his recovery from a recent flu, while at full back, Odriozola and Marcelo could come in for Carvajal and Reguilón, respectively.

If he starts, Marcelo will look to take the advantage of the opportunity to try to regain his starting position in Solari’s side, after having not featured in either of the last two games against Atlético and Ajax.

The Brazilian has recently fallen out of favour with the Argentine coach, who has opted for 22-year-old Reguilón as his first choice left back in Madrid's last five LaLiga fixtures, as well as on Wednesday against Ajax.

After Girona, Madrid will not have a mid-week game for the first time in 2019, something which Solari will take advantage of in order to ensure his first-choice players are at 100 percent for the crucial double-header Clásico fixtures against Barcelona on 27 February and 2 March.