Zidane forced to shuffle pack

Real manager's injury list sees reserve team defender Tejero, 20, called up for Legia tie

MADRID • James Rodriguez and Marcelo have been excluded from Real Madrid's squad for their Champions League group game with Legia Warsaw today.

The Spanish football giants face the Polish side in a Champions Group F encounter that will be played behind closed doors at the Polish Army Stadium in Warsaw.

Real manager Zinedine Zidane, in a surprising move, has called reserve team defender Alvaro Tejero after the 20-year-old produced some impressive displays this season.

The Frenchman was forced to take action as Luka Modric, Casemiro and Sergio Ramos are still sidelined through injury, while central defender Pepe has added to that list after suffering a hamstring strain in the weekend defeat of Alaves.

The Brazilian is expected to be out for up to six weeks, reported AS.

The good news for Real is that their front line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are all fit.

However, Zidane may rest Benzema in order to give Alvaro Morata a run in the starting XI.

Real warmed up for today's game with a 4-1 win at Alaves in which Ronaldo bagged a hat-trick.

They lead La Liga by two points from Barcelona, are unbeaten in 15 games this season and have scored 24 times in their last five matches.

Ronaldo is just two goals away from reaching a century in European competition. The Portuguese has been criticised in recent weeks after his bad performances, but he is back on track.

The Spanish club go into the clash tied with Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table on seven points after two wins and a draw, while Legia are bottom of the group having failed to register a point.

The Polish side, though, have considerably fewer injury worries on their minds.

The club's website confirmed that centre-back Michal Pazdan made his return in Friday's 4-2 win over Korona Kielce, replacing Jakub Czerwinski.

Despite being sent off in the league fixture, Pazdan should retain his place for today's outing, while Guilherme Marques will likely deputise for the injured Adam Hlousek at left-back, and Lukasz Broz could take Bartosz Bereszynski's spot on the other side of defence.

Legia lost 1-5 in Madrid the last time out. They have won their last two league games but are far from the top of the table.

Another defeat today will eliminate them, while even a draw may not put off the inevitable.

Real will be through with a win, provided Dortmund also win.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'Zidane forced to shuffle pack'. Print Edition | Subscribe