Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane (L) takes part in a training session at Real Madrid sport city in Madrid on November 18, 2016, on the eve of the Spanish league football match Atletico de Madrid vs Real Madrid CF. / AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO
Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos were named among Real Madrid’s injury-ravaged 20-man squad for the last ever derby at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon on Saturday.
Real boss Zinedine Zidane will be without defender Pepe, the influential midfield duo of Casemiro and Toni Kroos, as well as striker Alvaro Morata.
However, Zidane confirmed Benzema is fit to start despite only returning to training on Thursday after two weeks out with a hamstring problem.
“He is with us, he is better and I am happy that he is in the squad and can play from the start,” said Zidane.
Ramos has been sidelined for even longer having not featured since spraining knee ligaments in Spain’s 2-0 win in Albania on October 9.
“He is our captain and it is a joy to see him with us once more,” added Zidane.
“We know how important he is and that he is on the field is very important for the group.”
Real will be guaranteed a hostile reception for possibly the final derby at the Calderon before Atletico move to their new 67,000 capacity La Peineta stadium from next season.
Atletico are out for revenge having lost the Champions League final to Real for the second time in three seasons on penalties in May.
And Diego Simeone’s men are the more desperate side as they trail leaders Real by six points in the title race.
However, Atletico did also inflict Zidane’s only La Liga defeat as Real boss to date in their last league meeting in February.
“As always it is a great stadium with great fans, but the Madrid players are used to playing in all hostile and difficult atmospheres,” added Zidane.
“We know the Calderon very well and the difficulties we will face.
“What matters to me is that we give our all from the first minute to the last and then we will see what happens on the pitch.”