Real Madrid: How Will They Line Up Against Malaga in La Liga?
Real Madrid return to action on Saturday afternoon when they welcome former manager Bernd Schuster's Malaga to the Bernabeu.
Los Blancos stole a stoppage-time win away at Levante in the last round of fixtures before the international break, keeping them five points behind Atletico Madrid and Barcelona—both remain perfect after eight games.
Malaga fell to a disappointing defeat to Osasuna at home last time out; it leaves them, following a summer of upheaval, with just two wins in the league so far this season.
The FIFA virus has been a talking point in La Liga in recent years, with Barcelona and Madrid suffering from players returning from international duty with knocks.
Darly signs suggest Carlo Ancelotti's team could be OK though.
Diego Lopez—who like Manchester United's No. 1 David de Gea is overlooked for Spain—should take up his position between the posts, with Iker Casillas returning to a watching brief following his outing in La Roja's win over Georgia on Tuesday night.
Elsewhere, aside from Xabi Alonso and Gareth Bale, who could yet feature from the bench this weekend, Ancelotti has close to a full squad to choose from.
Alvaro Arbeloa wasn't risked by Vicente del Bosque for Spain on Tuesday night, but, depending on the severity of his niggle, Dani Carvajal would be more than ready to step in at right-back.
He'll presumably line up alongside Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo—although Portuguese duo Pepe and Fabio Coentrao could also feature.
In front of his back five, Ancelotti will presumably go with what he'll consider full strength.
That will surely mean a start for Luka Modric—although he was dropped for the Madrid derby—but will he play alongside Asier Illarramendi or Sami Khedira?
Khedira's had a bit of a moan this week about feeling like a scapegoat when things go wrong at the Bernabeu—could it cost him his place in the side?
And with Bale's injury, a front four including Angel di Maria, Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema should continue.
Benzema hasn't scored in his last six league games for Madrid, while Alvaro Morata came on to score a late equaliser against Levante and really increase the pressure surrounding the Frenchman's spot in the side.
Morata's not going to go away anytime soon, and Benzema will have to hope his goal scoring touch is back after a couple of strikes for France in the last week—his Clasico spot may depend on it.
The main thing Ancelotti will be looking out for on Saturday is more cohesion and a definitive style in midfield.
Several times he's mentioned he's striving for more consistency in the middle of the park, while he's constantly mixed and matched which players play there.
With Barcelona waiting at Camp Nou next weekend, he'll need to hope he stumbles upon a solution in the meeting with Malaga.
Predicted Real Madrid XI: Diego Lopez; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Sami Khedira; Angel di Maria, Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo; Karim Benzema
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