Thanks to some very candid remarks from Carlo Ancelotti in his weekend press conference, as well as a revealing session of Sunday training, we have a clear picture of what the Real Madrid lineup will look like for Monday’s Primera Division match against Celta Vigo.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti: "Bale will be included in the squad for tomorrow’s game"— AS English (@English_AS) January 5, 2014
“He’s in the squad,” confirmed the Madrid manager, “but I have to decide if he plays or not.”
He added: “He’s had no problems, but we might wait a bit to make sure he returns to his best.”
Marca also divulged that Angel Di Maria had been deployed on the right of the attack in a recent training match, with Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo operating alongside in support of lone striker Karim Benzema.
In defense, it’s likely that Pepe and Sergio Ramos will keep their places in front of goalkeeper Diego Lopez, although Ancelotti sounded optimistic when asked about injured centre-back Raphael Varane.
“The knee is responding well,” he said, as reported by Football-Espana. “In 10 to 15 days he’ll start training with the team.”
On the flanks it’s expected that Daniel Carvajal will get the nod ahead of Alvaro Arbeloa at right-back, while Marcelo will start on the left as Fabio Coentrao continues to struggle with a thigh problem.
Xabi Alonso, having fully recovered from a foot injury that kept him on the sidelines through much of the 2013 portion of the schedule, will start in the centre of midfield next to Croatia international Luka Modric.
Also included in Madrid’s 20-man squad for Monday, according to Football-Espana, are goalkeepers Iker Casillas and Jesus Fernandez, defenders Arbeloa and Nacho, midfielders Gareth Bale, Casemiro and Asier Illarramendi and attackers Jese and Alvaro Morata.
With both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid having posted weekend victories, Real Madrid are third in the standings heading into their 18th match of the season, eight points back of the co-leaders.
Projected Real Madrid XI: Diego Lopez; Daniel Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos Marcelo; Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric; Angel Di Maria, Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo; Karim Benzema