Cristiano Ronaldo returns from his two-game ban in La Liga in a crucial moment for Los Blancos, who visit arch-rivals Atletico Madrid suffering a multiple injury blow.
Sergio Ramos and James Rodriguez fell injured on Wednesday as Los Blancos beat Sevilla in La Liga and they will be sidelined for some time. The Spaniard will not return until the second week of March, while the Colombian could be sidelined for up to three months.
Marcelo will also miss the derby as he received his fifth yellow card of the season against the Andalusians and the Spanish Sports Administrative Court refused Los Merengues’ appeal.
With Pepe and Luka Modric still on the sidelines, Carlo Ancelotti faces the tough task of displaying a strong defensive line to face Atletico.
Nacho Fernandez, who put in a brilliant performance against Sevilla, will feature at centre-back alongside Raphael Varane. Daniel Carvajal will return to the right-back, but Ancelotti is yet to decide whether Alvaro Arbeloa or Fabio Coentrao will play on the left. The Spaniard has got more minutes lately, so he could be the coach’s pick.
Sami Khedira could feature at midfield pairing with Toni Kroos, while Gareth Bale will return to the left wing leaving the striker role to Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
The victory against Sevilla saw Los Blancos move four poinst clear of Barcelona at the top of the table, while Atletico sit third, seven points behind Real. A win would leave the Colchoneros trailing ten points and with very few chances of winning their second La Liga title in a row.
Diego Simeone has all his men available and he will surely aim to continue his good streak against Los Merengues. Atletico have been unbeaten in their last five clashes against their city rival, and their high-intensity game has caused Ancelotti men big trouble. Should they beat Los Blancos, the fight for La Liga would become far more exciting.
Atletico Madrid: Moya; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Siqueira; Koke, Gabi, Tiago, Arda Turan; Griezmann, Mandzukic.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Arbeloa; Bale, Khedira, Kroos, Isco; Benzema, Ronaldo.