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Key decisions for Zidane as Madrid rebuild begins

AFP  |  Madrid 

has promised change at Real this summer and the last 11 games of the season will give an indication as to who will be part of his new era.

Zidane's first match since being reappointed as comes against Celta Vigo on Saturday, with lying in no-man's land in Liga, 12 points behind in first and 10 ahead of Alaves in fifth.

Atletico are away to Athletic Bilbao while travel to Real Betis on Sunday.

But several players are playing for their futures before the campaign ends and Zidane's selection will offer early clues as to his thinking about his squad.

Here, AFP Sport looks at five areas of contention ahead of the game at the Santiago Bernabeu this weekend: Bale clean slate?


was the many hoped would step up after the departure of to Juventus but have again disrupted his rhythm and, when fit, he has only delivered in flashes. Zidane lost patience with Bale last year, believing the Welshman to be a liability defensively and unreliable with his fitness. The pair were barely speaking at times and while Zidane's departure opened the door for Bale to stay, his return may now prompt his exit.

Navas or Courtois? ===================

was a favourite of Zidane, who repeatedly persuaded the club against signing a new goalkeeper, such was his faith in the Costa Rican. After Zidane left, Madrid bought and while used both players, put his faith in Courtois and left Navas out in the cold. Restoring Navas would be a bold move, particularly given Courtois cost the club around 40 million euros last summer. But the Belgian's form has not been particularly convincing and Navas remains a popular figure in the dressing room.

Marcelo or Reguilon?

==================== Solari promoted a handful of youngsters during his tenure and while Vinicius Junior was the most spectacular to emerge, has been excellent at left-back too. The 22-year-old is adept both going forward and defensively while his crossing has proven a significant attacking weapon. Marcelo was dropped by Solari, considered out of form and out of shape, but was a regular under Zidane, who values the Brazilian's character and experience, as well as his ability.

Isco revival?

============= Isco's situation could hardly get any worse. He failed to start a single Liga game under Solari and was surely destined for an exit in the summer if the Argentinian had stayed in charge.

But Zidane's return offers new hope for the midfielder, whose time under the Frenchman was far from plain-sailing but finished on a high. Isco pointedly said at one stage last season he preferred playing for than Madrid under Zidane, only to then regain his place and start both legs in the semi-final and the final in He will be hoping to continue where he left off.

Llorente or Casemiro?

===================== In the end, results left Solari with nowhere to turn but few could argue against his courage in giving youth a chance. The 24-year-old impressed greatly in midfield and it remains to be seen whether his progress now continues under Zidane. Casemiro and have both endured disappointing seasons alongside Luka Modric, who continues to be linked with a move to

Zidane may be tempted to spend big in the summer but might do well to look closer to home as well. Llorente looks ready to step up.

Fixtures (times GMT)


Real Sociedad v Levante (2000)


Huesca v Alaves (1200), Real Madrid v Celta Vigo (1515), Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid (1730), Leganes v Girona (1945) Sunday Eibar v Real Valladolid (1100), Espanyol v (1515), v Getafe (1730), Villarreal v Rayo Vallecano (1730), Real Betis v (1945).

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 15 2019. 10:10 IST