Back in La Liga action after their Champions League exploits, Real Madrid will be hoping to continue their fine form and keep the pressure on Barcelona when they host Girona on Sunday.
Los Blancos’ 2-1 win away at Ajax means they are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions – as the club continue to improve under Santiago Solari.
With no real injury concerns for the Madrid manager, he could opt for a strong lineup at the Bernabeu. Here’s how they could line up.
1. Goalkeeper and Defenders
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – The Belgian has seemingly cemented his place in the Madrid starting XI ahead of Keylor Navas after a string of impressive performances.
Dani Carvajal (RB) – A combination of injury and form has seen the 27-year-old feature only 15 times in the league this season, yet when fit, he is a certain to feature for Solari’s men.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – The mercurial centre half notched up his 600th appearance for Los Blancos in the club’s recent 2-1 victory over Ajax, putting him seventh in the all-time appearance records for the club. Ramos will go level fifth and sixth if he features on Sunday.
Nacho (CB) – Likely to fill in for Raphael Varane at centre-back, with the World Cup winner doubtful after sitting out training. Nacho is a more than capable replacement though, and can be relied upon to put in a solid shift.
Marcelo (LB) – The flamboyant Brazilian has lost his place in the side during recent weeks, but may find himself back in favour this week after sitting out the Champions League clash with Ajax – meaning his greater level of fitness could give him the nod.
Toni Kroos (CM) – Acts as the link between attack and defence in the Madrid midfield, spraying the ball from left to right with either foot at ease. His range of passing is second to none and he will see plenty of the ball on Sunday.
Casemiro (CDM) – His robust performance against Ajax earned him the man-of-the-match accolade. His ability to break up opposing attacks allows his side’s forward players to focus on their duties up front, knowing they’re secure at the back.
Dani Ceballos (CM) – With Luka Modric suspended and Marcos Llorente injured, it means Dani Ceballos could get the nod in the midfield three on Sunday. It will be the 22-year-old’s 30th appearance of the season.
Marco Asensio (RW) – Will likely get the nod over Gareth Bale due to his goalscoring cameo appearance against Ajax. Has only scored once in La Liga this season, but the Welshman may be axed regardless.
Karim Benzema (CF) – Notched his 450th club appearance in the recent victory over Ajax and has been in excellent form for Solari’s side this campaign, averaging a goal every two games.
Vinicius Jr. (LW) – At the tender age of 18, the Brazilian demonstrates the confidence of someone ten years his senior. His skill on the ball and blistering pace will cause Girona all sorts of problems on Sunday.