All eyes will be on the Real Madrid dugout on Saturday as Zinedine Zidane makes his return to the head coach role in a home encounter against Celta Vigo.
Santiago Solari was sacked earlier this week, despite a 4-1 win in Valladolid last Sunday, with Zidane now Madrid’s third coach of the season after Julen Lopetegui departed following a calamitous start to the campaign.
With no Champions League to chase and a massive 12-point gap to Barcelona to make up, the best that Zizou can surely hope for is to stabilise the club – and he will expect to begin with a victory against opponents who sit in the relegation zone.
|Game||Real Madrid vs Celta|
|Date||Saturday, March 16|
|Time||3:15pm GMT / 11:15am ET|
|Stream (US)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
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|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be broadcast as it will be played during the blackout period.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Real Madrid squad|
|Goalkeepers||Navas, Luca, Courtois|
|Defenders||Ramos, Nacho, Varane, Marcelo, Odriozoloa, Reguilon|
|Midfielders||Kroos, Modric, Valverde, Asensio, Brahim, Isco, Ceballos|
|Forwards||Mariano, Benzema, Bale|
Zinedine Zidane has a number of selection headaches prior to this encounter, with Casemiro the big absentee due to suspension.
Dani Carvajal is out injured and will be replaced by Alvaro Odriozola, while Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior are also out.
Marcos Llorente has failed to make the squad.
Real Madrid starting XI: Courtois, Odriozola, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Modric, Kroos, Asensio, Isco, Benzema, Bale.
Subs: Courtois, Nacho, Mariano, Valverde, Brahim, Reguilon, Ceballos.
|Defenders||Hoedt, Araujo, Costas, Cabral, Olaza, Junca, Vazquez|
|Midfielders||Lobotka, Yokuslu, Radoja, Beltran, Jensen, Sanchez, Boufal,|
|Forwards||Sisto, Emre Mor, Mendez, Hjulsager, Maxi Gomez|
Celta’s slump has coincided with an injury to Iago Aspas, who has 10 goals in 18 La Liga outings. A calf injury continues to keep him pinned to the sidelines.
Suspended defender Hugo Mallo is their other absentee.
Celta starting XI: Ruben, Kevin, Costas, Araujo, Junca, Okay, Lobotka, Mendez, Sisto, Boufal, Maxi Gomez.
Subs: Sergio, Beltran, Hoedt, Hjulsager, Jensen, Jozabed, Boudebouz.
Betting & Match Odds
Real Madrid are red-hot 2/11 favourites at bet365 , while a draw is available at 13/2. A win for Celta is priced at 12/1.
Three-time Champions League-winning coach Zinedine Zidane is back at the Bernabeu. Less than a year after departing, Real Madrid called upon the Frenchman to help steer them to the conclusion of what has been a crisis-ridden season.
Former president Ramon Calderon suggested that Jose Mourinho was the man that the board favoured to guide the club through these troubled times, but the players seem to be delighted that Zizou has returned.
“It is fantastic for everyone to have him back at Real Madrid. And all the credit for him being back now, when time is tough,” Isco, who found himself peripheral during Solari’s reign, told the media.
“He loves Real Madrid and hopefully he will lead us again to victory.”
Success for Madrid, though, is likely to be a long-term project.
They are already out of both cup competitions while their position 12 points behind Barcelona in La Liga with 11 matches remaining means that only the most optimistic Blanco believes it is still a genuine possibility.
Already thoughts are turning to the summer transfer market, with speculation linking the club with a host of top names, including Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Paris Saint-Germain duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Zidane, though, knows the importance of each fixture at Madrid and told the media when asked to respond to speculation: “I’m only thinking about tomorrow’s match.”
In the short term, it is essential that Madrid get back to winning ways and nail down a top-four finish, which seems all but secure.
Standing in their way on Saturday is a Celta outfit that is winless in five and has won only one of 12.
Surely Madrid will prove too strong for them.