Champions League

Real Madrid’s strongest XI will react

Zinedine Zidane is clear that against Apoel, in the debut of this season’s Champions League, he will play Real Madrid’s strongest possible XI and throw everything at his opponents in order to achieve a morale boosting victory.

The team will be more or less that same as in last season’s final against Juventus with Gareth Bale coming in for the injured Karim Benzema.

Raphael Varane remains a doubt in the centre of defence and though the Frenchman is already recovered, Zizou wants to see how he trains on Monday and Tuesday before deciding if he makes the starting line up.

If he doesn’t, Nacho will play alongside Sergio Ramos but other than that, the rest of the team will be the same as in Cardiff.

They need to regain confidence through results and this will be a priority against the weakest rival in their Champions League group.

That’s why Keylor Navas, Carvajal, Ramos, Marcelo, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo will all play, though Marco Asensio will be held in reserve.

Despite Zidane staying true to his rotation policy, he does have an XI in mind that he is going to stick with in the big games.

He already did the same in the last campaign, against Barcelona, Celta and Malaga in the final matches in LaLiga, and also against Atletico and Juventus in the Champions League.

Benzema, who will be out for a month at least, also gives Zidane the option of a 4-4-2 formation, as long as Isco continues to perform at the level he has been doing all year.

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