Real Madrid will be without most of its defenders when it hosts Valladolid this weekend in its first Spanish league match without coach Julen Lopetegui.
Interim coach Santiago Solari will not be able to count on veteran left back Marcelo, central defender Raphael Varane and right back Dani Carvajal. They are all unavailable for Saturday’s match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium because of injuries, as is reserve central defender Jesus Vallejo.
In attack, Solari also won’t have reserve forward Mariano Diaz, although Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale are set to play.
Solari, in charge of Madrid since Lopetegui was fired on Monday following a series of poor results, is expected to stick to the second-stringers who helped the team defeat third-division club Melilla 4-0 in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
Alvaro Odriozola, who scored his first goal with the main squad against Melilla, will likely remain at right back for Carvajal, while Sergio Reguilon will probably stay on the left for Marcelo.
“We never have indisputable players,” Solari said Friday. “Of course we have more experienced players in the squad, but also some very good youngsters.”
There had been hope Carvajal could recover from a muscle injury ahead of the Valladolid match, but he did not practice with the squad on Friday.
Nacho Fernandez could also be an option to play in the right side, but he will be needed in the middle of the defense to replace Varane. Sergio Ramos, who played a half against Melilla, will likely start alongside Fernandez.
Javi Sanchez, a defender with Madrid’s “B” team, is expected to stay on the bench against Valladolid.
Madrid fans were hoping Solari will include forward Vinicius Junior in the lineup following his excellent performance in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, which marked the youngster’s first start with the main squad. The 18-year-old Brazilian arrived amid high expectations in the offseason but had played mostly in the “B'” squad while Lopetegui was in charge.
“He is another player in our squad and all of them can be in the lineup,” Solari said. “They can all add something to the team.”
Madrid has lost four of its last five league games, including three straight, while Valladolid is unbeaten in six matches with four victories in that run. The club owned by former Brazil striker Ronaldo is sixth in the standings, two points in front of ninth-place Madrid.
After 10 matches, Madrid is seven points behind leader Barcelona, which visits Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
Source: The Associated Press