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Why isn’t Vinícius Júnior playing for Real Madrid against Athletic Club today?

Vinícius is unavailable for Real Madrid’s LaLiga clash with Athletic, but Jude Bellingham returns from suspension and Éder Militão could make his comeback.

Vinícius is unavailable for Real Madrid’s LaLiga clash with Athletic, but Jude Bellingham returns from suspension and Éder Militão could make his comeback.
chema MoyaEFE

Real Madrid will be without Vinícius Júnior against Athletic Club today, but the Spanish league leaders welcome back Jude Bellingham - and could also celebrate the return of Éder Militão from a long-term injury absence.

Bellingham back from ban

Bellingham is available to play in LaLiga once more, after completing a two-match ban for his red card at the end of the 2-2 draw with Valencia four weeks ago.

Only three of Bellingham’s 20 goals this season have come in 2024, so the England star will be tasked with rediscovering his scoring touch for Los Blancos - particularly given the absence of Vinícius, who is suspended.

Vinícius unavailable after Osasuna yellow

The Brazilian had in recent games picked up the slack from Bellingham in front of goal, but he serves a one-match LaLiga ban for accumulated bookings, having been cautioned for dissent in Madrid’s 4-2 win at Osasuna two weeks ago.

Militão set for long-awaited injury return?

Meanwhile, Militão is in contention to make his comeback as a substitute, 233 days after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last August, in Madrid’s LaLiga season opener against today’s opponents.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, however, Ancelotti was cautious over the defender’s chances of being given game time. “It might happen, it might not,” the Italian said. “But I’m not saying it’s a 50-50 thing; it’s more like 70% that it won’t, and 30% that it will.”

Madrid’s starting centre-backs are expected to be Antonio Rüdiger and Aurélien Tchouaméni, depending on Eduardo Camavinga’s fitness. After Camavinga limped out of France’s friendly win over Chile on Tuesday, Ancelotti told his pre-match press conference that the midfielder has “a minor issue” but has been able to train ahead of this weekend’s clash.

Were Camavinga finally unable to start, Tchouaméni would return to his regular role at the base of the midfield, with Nacho Fernández playing alongside Rüdiger at the heart of the backline.

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Brahim to start up top once more

In attack, Brahim Díaz is expected to keep his place in Vinícius’ absence, the 24-year-old partnering Rodrygo Goes. A player who made his Morocco debut in last week’s friendly victory over Angola, Brahim has normally deputised for Bellingham, but will now get the opportunity to play with the Englishman.

Real Madrid’s possible line-up vs Athletic Club:

Andriy Lunin; Dani Carvajal, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Antonio Rüdiger, Ferland Mendy; Fede Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga, Toni Kroos, Jude Bellingham; Brahim Díaz, Rodrygo Goes.

Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: kick-off time, how to watch

On matchday 30 of the 2023/24 LaLiga season, Real Madrid host Athletic Club today, Sunday 31 March 2024, with kick-off at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu scheduled for 3pm ET/12 noon PT. Viewers in the United States will be able to watch the game on ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes.