Zinedine Zidane makes wholesale changes to Real Madrid team for first game of second spell 2 years ago

Zinedine Zidane makes wholesale changes to Real Madrid team for first game of second spell

The old guard return

Zinedine Zidane has made big changes to Real Madrid's starting line-up for his first game back in charge after he was reappointed this week.

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Madrid have endured a tough season, struggling to adapt to life without Cristiano Ronaldo as the squad that won three consecutive Champions Leagues has shown signs of ageing.

Previous managers this season, Julen Lopetegui and Santi Solari, had tried to begin the process of rejuvenating the squad, benching players who have formed a key part of Madrid's core in recent years, most notably Marcelo, Isco and Gareth Bale.

But with nothing left to play for this season and morale at an all time low, Zidane has brought all three of them back into the side for his first game in charge.

Thibaut Courtois, who joined Madrid from Chelsea last summer but has struggled for form in recent games, has also been dropped, with Keylor Navas starting between the sticks for Saturday's game against Celta Vigo.

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With Casemiro suspended after picking up his first ever red card last weekend, Toni Kroos slots into the holding role, making room for Isco to play in the midfield trio.

Bale's inclusion will be the most polarising among Madrid fans, who have not been shy to voice their displeasure at his failure to replace Ronaldo's goal output in recent weeks. The man who scored winning goals in the 2014 Copa del Rey final, 2014 Champions League final and a brace in last season's Champions League final, has been subjected to some of the most vitriolic abuse to come from Madridistas in recent years. They're a tough crowd.

It's unlikely that many of this side will be starting games - even playing for Madrid at all - next season, with a squad overhaul on the cards. But with just 11 matches left to play this season, and no trophies to win, Zidane has opted to use the players he knows well from his previous spell.