MX23RW : Saturday, November 17 07:33:50

Team News: Mateo Kovacic preferred to Casemiro as Real Madrid welcome Bayern Munich

Team News: Mateo Kovacic preferred to Casemiro
© Offside
Mateo Kovacic is a surprise inclusion for Real Madrid as they welcome Bayern Munich to the Bernabeu for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final.

Mateo Kovacic has been selected ahead of Casemiro in Real Madrid's starting lineup for this evening's Champions League semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich.

The 23-year-old, used for an hour in the win over Leganes last time out, starts a European match for just the fourth time this season.

Casemiro drops down to the bench for a Madrid side that also includes Lucas Vazquez at right-back, with Nacho Fernandez and Dani Carvajal both out injured.

Elsewhere, star man Cristiano Ronaldo is restored up top after being given a weekend off, but there is once again no place for Gareth Bale as Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema are given the nod.

The visitors have a number of injury problems to contend with, meanwhile, finding themselves without Arturo Vidal, Arjen Robben, Jerome Boateng, Kingsley Coman, Manuel Neuer and now Javi Martinez for his huge fixture.

In the absence of the reliable Martinez, who is at least deemed fit enough for a place among the subs, Corentin Tolisso and Thiago Alcantara are expected to link up in central midfield.

Robert Lewandowski leads the Bayern line as expected, aiming to build on a record that has seen him score 39 times in all competitions this season, while James Rodriguez starts against his parent club.

Bayern show four changes from last week's first leg, which finished 2-1 to back-to-back champions Madrid.

Real Madrid: Navas; Vazquez, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Kovacic, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Ronaldo
Subs: Casilla, Nacho, Bale, Casemiro, Theo Hernandez, Mayoral, Ceballos

Bayern Munich: Ulreich; Kimmich, Hummels, Sule, Alaba; Thiago; Muller, Tolisso, James, Ribery; Lewandowski
Subs: Starke, Wagner, Martinez, Rafinha, Mai, Rudy, Dorsch

Follow all of the action as it unfolds at the Bernabeu with Sports Mole's live text coverage right here.

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James Rodriguez in action for Bayern Munich on November 4, 2017
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona1273234181624
2Sevilla1272324141023
3Atletico MadridAtletico12651168823
4AlavesAlaves127231712523
5Espanyol126331610621
6Real Madrid126242016420
7Real Valladolid1245399017
8Levante125251819-117
9GironaGirona124531314-117
10Real Sociedad124441514116
11Getafe124441110116
12Real Betis124441215-316
13EibarEibar124351218-615
14Celta Vigo123542220214
15Valencia1228289-114
16Villarreal122551113-211
17Athletic Bilbao121741319-610
18Leganes12246916-710
19Rayo Vallecano121471425-117
20Huesca121381025-156

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