?Real Madrid striker Luka Jovi? has been left out of Zinedine Zidane’s 19-man squad which will face Barcelona on Sunday, being replaced by former Lyon star Mariano Díaz.
The Serbia international scored in his last league match for Real Madrid against Osasuna, but Jovi? was an unused substitute the following week and missed their last match against Levante altogether – apparently due to a virus.
The 22-year-old did feature in Real Madrid’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League, which backs up AS’ claim that Jovi? has recovered from his illness, but Zidane has left the striker out of his squad which will face the Catalan giants.
Jovi? has only scored two goals in 22 appearances since joining Real Madrid from Eintracht Frankfurt in a £54m deal, but he’s still usually the club’s go-to backup striker behind Karim Benzema.
In Jovi?’s place this weekend will be Mariano, who has only featured in a Real Madrid shirt in 44 minutes across the entire season.
Since rejoining Real in 2018, Mariano has scored four goals in 24 appearances, but he looked set to be on his way out of the club following Jovi?’s arrival last year.
The 26-year-old has already featured to two Clásico’s during his career, but in the three separate seasons that Mariano has been involved in Real Madrid’s first-team squad, Los Blancos have failed to beat Barcelona at every attempt (seven).
Despite Mariano’s poor record since returning to Real Madrid, manager Zidane insists that he isn’t concerned about a lack of options in attack; especially as the club have been performing well without Eden Hazard in their squad.
“I’m not worried, for the past four months we’ve been winning games, and much of these without Hazard too,” Zidane said. “The most important thing is for us to be solid and know how to score. It’s later then up for me to make the team selection and it’s as simple as that”
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