Marcelo, Navas & Isco… Who will Zidane pick for his 1st match after returning?



Zinedine Zidane takes charge of his first Real Madrid game since his re-appointment today, with plenty of questions marks over who he’ll pick…

Zinedine Zidane prepares for his first match since returning as Real Madrid coach – a home LaLiga clash with Celta Vigo this afternoon (16:15 CET) – with plenty of question marks over which players will get the nod in the Frenchman’s second debut.

Stick with Courtois in goal, bring Navas back in?

Who will be between sticks is the opening unknown. Throughout the two and a half years of his first spell in charge, Zidane had no doubts at all: Keylor Navas was his undisputed, first-choice goalkeeper, with the coach even thwarting the club’s move for Kepa Arrizabalaga, who had passed a medical ahead of a switch from Athletic Bilbao. His opinion on Thibaut Courtois is not known, but it cannot be ruled out that he’ll restore Navas to the side.

Marcelo restored to line-up?

The other chief talking point is in defence. His relationship with Marcelo is excellent, with the Brazilian always one of the first names on the team sheet during the 46-year-old’s previous stint at the helm; however, the left-back had lost his place to Sergio Reguilón under Santiago Solari. It remains to be seen whether or not Zidane’s re-appointment signals his return to the team…

Who will replace banned Casemiro in midfield?

In Madrid’s midfield, Zidane’s regular trio appears to pick itself: Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. However, the Brazilian is suspended and his natural replacement, Marcos Llorente, is still out injured. ‘Zizou’ will have to choose between Federico Valverde and Dani Ceballos.

The latter, who is the most probable option, was restricted to a bit-part role under Zidane last time around, so this is a decision that will offer a strong indication as to what kind of role he can expect in the coach’s second tenure in the Madrid dugout.

The start of new Isco dawn under Zidane?

In attack, the absences of Vinicius and Lucas Vázquez would seem to clear the way for a front three of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio. But Isco was preferred to the Welshman in Zidane’s final term in charge, and, in the wake of Solari’s departure, the Andalusian could return to the side…

Meanwhile, having also been a fringe figure under Solari, Brahim Díaz will find out what the new boss makes of him. It’s unlikely that the 18-year-old January signing will start at the Bernabéu, but he could get a run-out in the second half…