REAL MADRID

Real Madrid: Gareth Bale and James ruled out for Betis game

Zinedine Zidane will also be missing Nacho and Marco Asensio for the visit of Rubi's side, with Luka Modric in line for just his second start of the Liga season.

Real Madrid: Gareth Bale and James ruled out for Betis game

Gareth Bale and James Rodríguez will miss out on Zinedine Zidane’s squad for the visit of Betis to the Bernabéu this weekend with both the Welshman and the Colombian not ready to make a return to first-team action.

Bale has not featured since returning from international duty carrying a calf injury while James has been in Colombia after the birth of his second child, which caused him to miss the 5-0 victory over Leganés in midweek. Both players did not take part in full training on Friday and will be omitted from Zidane’s squad to take on Rubi’s side.

Zidane is also without Nacho and Marco Asensio, who are long-term injury absentees, but otherwise has plenty to choose from for the Liga fixture with half an eye on Galatasaray in the Champions League next week. The Real Madrid manager is likely to make several changes to his side after appearing to settle on a preferred starting XI that does not feature Bale, James or Ballon d’Or holder Luka Modric.

The Croatian has made just one Liga start this season, on the opening weekend away at Celta, and was sent off in that game. After serving a one-game suspension, Modric then succumbed to a muscle injury that caused him to miss games against Levante, Sevilla and Osasuna. He then sat out the defeat in Mallorca with a knock and has seen his place in midfield usurped by the excellent form of Fede Valverde, who appears to be first choice along with Toni Kroos and Casemiro in the middle of the park for now.

Zidane to ring the changes against Betis

Up front, Zidane has settled on a trident of Rodrygo, Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard but may opt to rest one of them in favour of Luka Jovic, who finally got off the mark for Madrid against Leganés.

Alphonse Areola has the opportunity to stake a claim for a place in goal against Betis with Thibaut Courtois under some scrutiny while other little-used players including Ferland Mendy and Éder Militão may come in to afford Marcelo and Raphaël Varane a day off.

Real cannot afford to lose to Galatasaray with their place in Group A still somewhat precarious but will hope PSG do them a favour by beating Brugge to keep the Belgian side at arm’s length.

Whatever side Zidane puts out will have to contend with a Betis side who picked up their third win of the season against Celta and have the prolific Loren up front as they seek to keep pace with leaders Barcelona, who have a one-point advantage and travel to Levante this weekend.