The penultimate international break of the year has ended with some negative consequences for Real Madrid. As La Liga returns, the team will have to do without a few important players. Levante will be the first step towards a complicated part of the calendar that will include PSG twice, Sevilla and FC Barcelona right after. Hoping to break the three-way tie in the second place, Los Blancos need the three points.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
The absence of two key members like Karim Benzema and Luka Modrić might trigger a change in the system. However, Rafa Benítez has shown that he doesn’t give up on his philosophy that easily. While some starters will miss this one, the bench still has talent to offer and step up to any challenge.
GK: Keylor Navas
The Costa Rican conceded his second goal of the season in the last match. His form is spectacular at the moment and he will keep on starting. The Copa Del Rey in December might see Kiko Casilla making an appearance.
It’s been a while since Danilo last played. He’s fully recovered and ready to gain back the spot he was owning before his injury. Carvajal has been doing a fine job, so a great effort must be done.
Sergio Ramos is still having some problems and it would be risky to push him before the vital clash against PSG. The Portuguese didn’t join his country during the break, so he’s fresh and up to the challenge.
CB: Raphaël Varane
Unlike his partner, the Frenchman did travel with his national team for a couple of friendlies. There’s a minor chance that Nacho will play to keep Varane focused on the upcoming Champions League matchday.
He rested against Malmö a couple of weeks ago and also on one of Brazil’s games. Although this isn’t enough, keeping him away from injury is a must. There are rumors of a winter signing to cover for him from time to time.
The Brazilian has been used quite a bit by Benítez. Modrić will be out for weeks and the midfield will need some strength. Kovačić is another alternative, yet it seems this defensive role will belong to Casemiro.
LCM: Toni Kroos
Luka’s absence may give him more creative freedom, something that he’s been lacking in this year. If he’s not careful enough, Casemiro and/or Kovačić are capable of taking his spot at any moment.
When it seemed that James Rodríguez would return, Isco gained some extra time to convince the boss that he’s a starter. Benzema’s injury will also give him more opportunities to play.
CAM: Gareth Bale
The Welsh made history with his country and will be in the Euro 2016. This achievement can be a huge boost for him. The team needs his best form in order to get back to finishing more goal chances.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
Like Bale, he’ll also be in next year’s European Championship. He’s scored two goals in the last six games, which is increasing his anxiety and costing points to the club. It’s time to step up to the plate like Benzema did before his injury.
ST: Jesé Rodríguez
He has a golden chance to play. It’s possible that he will be sent out on loan in January, still he has to be ready when he’s needed by the coach. He’s not the only option, as Lucas Vázquez and others can play there as well.