MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti faces a dilemma following an injury to Croatia midfielder Luka Modric when the leaders return to La Liga action after the international break at promoted Eibar on Saturday.
Modric is likely to be out until at least January and replacing him with Spain playmaker Isco, who has been on fine form for club and country, would add creativity in attack but might leave the defence exposed.
Deploying Sami Khedira alongside Germany team mate Toni Kroos would create a more solid unit but one which might lack inspiration going forward.
“Khedira and Kroos are a pair of world champions,” Ancelotti said on Spanish radio on Wednesday.
“I would like to try Isco with Kroos because he gives us a lot more quality but then we would have to sort out the defensive issue,” added the Italian.
Whatever Ancelotti decides, Real are likely to continue their imperious form at Eibar, whose entire squad is worth just over 20 million euros ($25 million), roughly as much as Real’s Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo earns in a season.
Ronaldo has been on prolific form this season, helping Real put together a run of 13 straight victories in all competitions and amass a jaw-dropping 52 goals.
“It’s going to be a unique experience with the stadium full playing one of the best teams in the world,” Eibar forward Mikel Arruabarrena told a news conference on Wednesday.
“We must respect the fact that they are some of the world’s best players but we must leave any fear behind in the dressing room,” he added.
After 11 La Liga matches, Real are two points clear of Barcelona, who host fifth-placed Sevilla on Saturday when Barca’s Argentina forward Lionel Messi will have another chance to equal or overtake the top-flight scoring record.
The record of 251 was set six decades ago by former Athletic Bilbao striker Telmo Zarra and Messi has been on 250 since netting against Eibar on Oct. 18.
Champions Atletico Madrid, who are four points behind Real in fourth, play at home to sixth-placed Malaga on Saturday, while third-placed Valencia are at crosstown rivals Levante on Sunday.
Former Manchester United and Everton manager David Moyes will make his debut as Real Sociedad coach in Saturday’s game at Deportivo La Coruna.
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Editing by Patrick Johnston