Casemiro back for Inter Milan but Zidane without Benzema
Casemiro returns at the ideal time for Zinedine Zidane but the Real Madrid manager will have to improvise in the absence of Benzema. Hugo Duro has been called up.
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has been handed a huge boost ahead of his side’s Champions League showdown with Inter Milan in San Siro after Casemiro was cleared to make the trip. The Brazilian has been absent after testing positive for covid-19 but was given the all-clear to rejoin the squad in time for the pivotal clash against Antonio Conte’s Serie A side, who have their own personnel issues as a result of the virus. Karim Benzema will be a huge loss for Zidane though after the Frenchman failed to shake off a muscle issue he picked up in the defeat at Valencia.
Zidane will be missing several other players in Milan including captain Sergio Ramos, who remains sidelined with a hamstring injury he suffered during Spain’s historic 6-0 victory over Germany. Álvaro Odriozola, Fede Valverde, Luka Jovic and Éder Militão are also unavailable.
Mariano back in the fold
Mariano was asked to lead the line against Villarreal and continued his exceptional goals-per-minutes ratio in a 1-1 draw at La Cerámica. The striker is rarely used by Zidane but often comes up with the goods, as he did in a Clásico last season when he found the net seconds after coming on. Against Villarreal, he opened the scoring inside two minutes. It would be no surprise if he is handed another start on Wednesday.
Zidane has also called up Castilla striker Hugo Duro, who has been catching the eye for the reserves, and central defender Víctor Chust as cover at the back, where Madrid are in short supply. Nacho will likely be called into the centre of defence alongside Raphaël Varane in Milan with Militão and Ramos both out.
But it is Casemiro who often makes the difference. Madrid have failed to win any of the four games the Brazilian has started this season and an often haphazard defence will benefit from the screening qualities of the midfielder, who can also drop into the back four in a pinch.
Madrid are third in Group B and two points ahead of Milan after a pulsating 3-2 victory over Conte’s side at the Alfredo Di Stéfano before the international break. Shakhtar and Borussia Mönchengladbach occupy the knock-out spots and meet each other in Germany.
Real Madrid squad for Inter Milan
Keepers: Courtois, Lunin, Altube.
Defenders: Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo, Mendy, Chust.
Midfielders: Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Odegaard, Isco.
Forwards: Hazard, Asensio, Vázquez, Vinicius, Mariano, Rodrygo, Duro.
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