Zinedine Zidane is facing a selection quandary as he prepares a fully fit Real Madrid side for the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev.
Real take on Villarreal in their final game of the Liga campaign on Saturday night, looking to build momentum for their clash with the Reds a week later.
After a setback with their 3-2 defeat to Sevilla at the beginning of the month, Zidane’s side returned to form with a 6-0 thrashing of Celta Vigo.
Complementing their form is an empty treatment room, with Real now boasting a fully fit squad at a crucial stage, with both Dani Carvajal and Cristiano Ronaldo travelling to Villarreal.
This leaves Zidane with a positive issue to address, as he told reporters ahead of the trip to the Estadio de la Ceramica, saying “I have 24 players available and I’m fucked”:
“Sorry, but I can’t find a better word, because there are players that will stay in Madrid and not come with us for the last two games. That’s the hardest part for me.
“I’m very happy to have everyone here, they deserve it. Some of the guys have had problems throughout the year but they all deserve to be here and ready to play.
“The sad thing is, when you’ve got 24 guys, some of them are going to miss out, in tomorrow’s game as well.
“I’m thrilled with how they worked during the week, those who don’t get so much playing time as well.
“It’s great for the dynamic of the group and I want to congratulate all of them on what they’re doing.
“We’ve had some tough times during the season, I’ve not always had 24 players available.
“To get to the end of the season without any injuries or discomfort is extremely positive.”
Goalkeeper Keylor Navas, defenders Jesus Vallejo and Achraf Hakimi, midfielders Marcos Llorente and Dani Ceballos and striker Borja Mayoral were left out of Zidane’s 18-man squad for Saturday.
Navas is likely to return to the side for the final, but Zidane has a quandary regarding the rest of his starting lineup against Liverpool.
The Frenchman gave no indication as to whether Gareth Bale would start in Kiev, despite scoring three goals in his last two games, with Ronaldo’s return reducing his chances.
Bale could join the likes of Nacho, Theo Hernandez, Mateo Kovacic and Isco on the substitutes’ bench, highlighting the strength in depth Real can call upon heading into the final.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have few options in reserve, with Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all ruled out and Emre Can a major doubt.
Adam Lallana made his comeback in last weekend’s 4-0 win over Brighton, but he is unlikely to start, leaving him alongside Ragnar Klavan, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke on the bench.
Despite this, Liverpool should head to the Ukraine with confidence, after a superb Champions League campaign that has seen them defeat Porto, Man City and Roma among others.