Real Madrid will continue their search for a record-breaking fourth successive UEFA Champions League crown when they travel to Amsterdam to face Ajax on Wednesday.
Los Blancos come into the first leg of their round of 16 tie on a high after beating Atletico Madrid to leapfrog their city rivals into second place in La Liga, seeing them extend their unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions.
Here is the lineup Santiago Solari is set to select for Wednesday’s encounter.
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – The Belgian has begun to show signs of settling at the Santiago Bernabeu after a rocky start, due to injury and poor form, saw him replaced by Keylor Navas following Courtois’ summer move from Chelsea.
Dani Carvajal (RB) – Carvajal is closing in 150 senior appearances for Los Blancos since he joined the youth set-up at just 10 years of age. An ever-present member of Real’s squad for the last half-decade, the right back is a reliable player who makes very few mistakes.
Raphael Varane (CB) – French international Varane had a memorable 2018, winning both the World Cup and Champions League. With Barcelona in devastating form in La Liga, Varane’s best chance of adding to his trophy cabinet looks to be, yet again, the Champions League.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – A man famed for his poor disciplinary record, Ramos holds the unwanted record of being the most carded player in Champions League history, with 37 yellows and three red cards.
Marcelo (LB) – Despite the emergence of Sergio Reguilon this season, Marcelo should keep his place at left-back for the game against Ajax, given the Brazilian wealth of experience on the biggest stage compared to Reguilon.
Toni Kroos (CM) – Kroos plays a vital role as a link between defence and attack in the centre of the park for Real Madrid, the importance of which is often overshadowed due to the embarrassment of riches at Santiago Solari’s disposal.
Casemiro (CDM) – The Brazilian’s rock solid tackling, as well as his ability to read the game superbly, has seen him develop into one of the best defensive midfielders in the world in recent seasons. This reputation could see him join Manchester City as they continue their search for a like-for-like replacement for Fernandinho.
Luka Modric (CM) – The Ballon d’Or holder currently leads his team in assists so far in 2018/19, proving to be as influential as ever from the heart of midfield. Modric’s ability to ghost in behind defenders could present a real problem for an Ajax back four that has looked shaky in recent weeks.
Gareth Bale (RW) – Bale has faced continuous criticism from the Spanish media since his move to Madrid in 2013. However, as his goal against Atletico last weekend showed, he is still a huge asset to Los Blancos.
Karim Benzema (ST) – Karim Benzema has been the most impressive player for Los Blancos over their recent seven-game winning streak. He has led the forward line superbly since the turn of the year.
Vinicius Jr. (LW) – The young Brazilian looks to be a star in the making, as he is enjoying a dazzling debut season in the Spanish capital. His pace and trickery is a deadly asset and, at just 18 years of age, the sky is the limit for Vinicius Jr.