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Could James return when Real Madrid face Valladolid?
Published : 23 Aug 2019, 12:39
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has a midfield selection dilemma ahead of his side's home game against Real Valladolid on Saturday afternoon.
Madrid put their poor pre-season behind them with a comfortable 3-1 win away to Celta Vigo last weekend, with Gareth Bale impressing while Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez scored the goals.
The only setback was a direct red card shown to Luka Modric - his first in La Liga - after the Croatian caught Denis Suarez on his Achilles with a clumsy challenge.
Modric is suspended on Saturday and Zidane has to decide his replacement from four possible candidates.
Isco can provide the creative talent and eye for a pass that Modric gives Real Madrid and is perhaps the favorite to step into the side.
Fede Valverde would provide greater workrate in the middle of the pitch, while Vazquez (who came on as a substitute in Vigo) would give extra width to the Madrid attack.
However, James Rodriguez is perhaps the closest thing Zidane has to a direct replacement for Modric, with the Colombian able to play in the opposition half and provide more creativity than Valverde.
If James plays it would see another player rehabilitated by Zidane after being ostracized for much of pre-season as the club looked to sell him. James was left out of Madrid's pre-season squads amid rumors of him joining either Napoli or Atletico Madrid after spending the past two years on loan at Bayern Munich.
Last weekend saw Zidane bring Bale back into his side just weeks after saying the best thing for both Madrid and the player would be for him to leave, and now there is a good chance the same thing will happen with James.
Meanwhile, Dani Carvajal will be able to return at left-back after missing the start of the season through suspension and he will probably replace Alvaro Odriozola, who struggled in Vigo.
Valladolid travel to the capital after an impressive win away to Real Betis on the first day of the campaign, and if coach Sergio Gonzalez wants, he will be able to field goalkeeper Andriy Lunin. The Ukrainian is on loan at the club from Real Madrid, who decided against inserting a clause preventing him from appearing against his parent club.