Real Madrid: 5 key players to watch against Inter Milan at the San Siro

Real Madrid, Raphael Varane (Photo by A. Ware/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Raphael Varane (Photo by A. Ware/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Mariano Diaz
Real Madrid, Mariano Diaz (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

ST Mariano Diaz

Real Madrid don’t seem to have a choice at striker. Luka Jovic tested positive for COVID-19 over the international break, and Karim Benzema is still out after his injury at Valencia. Benzema has done everything in his power to be ready for Wednesday’s game, but it looks like it probably won’t happen for him.

So Los Blancos will turn to Mariano Diaz again. Mariano has been offered to West Ham and even linked to another Premier League club in Everton, as he could be on his way out at the January transfer window. But if Benzema’s injury and Jovic’s COVID test are any indication, selling or loaning Mariano might not be in the club’s best interests. They could use the quality depth.

And Mariano has quality. Look, he is not more talented than either Benzema or Jovic, no matter what select fans like to say. But you cannot deny his work rate and production. It took him seconds to score the game-sealing goal in the first Clasico of 2020, and it took him fewer than two minutes to score the opener at Villarreal.

Assuming Mariano starts on Wednesday, he will face his most difficult matchup. Inter have some very good center backs, even if they have underperformed badly in the Champions League. This is a step up in competition, and if Mariano really wants more opportunities, he needs to lead the way and be more consistent for the full 90 minutes.