Real Madrid will be without three key players when they return to league action on Friday night.
French internationals Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga won’t travel to Real Valladolid after only just returning to training after the FIFA World Cup, and veteran midfielder Luka Modric is in the same situation after securing third place with Croatia at the tournament.
Real Madrid’s other World Cup participants should all be available, with the Brazilian trio of Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and Eder Militao all back at work at the start of the week, although forward Mariano Diaz will miss out with a twisted ankle.
Despite the absences, coach Carlo Ancelotti will be able to field a competitive midfield of Fede Valverde, Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos, while Antonio Rudiger, Ferland Mendy and David Alaba will all play in defense.
Much attention will be on Karim Benzema, after he was forced out of the France squad on the eve the World Cup with a thigh injury.
There were rumors that he might have been fit enough to return to the French camp before the end of the tournament, but that French coach Didier Deschamps didn’t want him. Benzema’s subsequent announcement that he was retiring from international football has done little to stop the rumor mill.
It’s therefore likely that he will be looking to make a point in the Nuevo Zorrilla Stadium, as Real Madrid look for a win that would take them back to the top of La Liga ahead of Barcelona’s home game to Espanyol on Saturday.
This is Real Madrid’s first competitive game since the World Cup, while Valladolid have the advantage of having played a Copa del Rey match last week, beating fourth-tier Arenas Club 5-1.
“We played well and were very serious in our first game back, and that is going to help us gain confidence,” said Valladolid coach Pacheta, adding that his side would prepare to face Real Madrid in the same way that they had against Arenas Club.