Mariano Díaz will get his first taste of first team action since he returned Madrid this weekend at San Mamés against Athletic Club (20:45 CEST). He's spent the past two weeks training hard and getting up to pace and Lopetegui wants him to enter the dynamic of the team as soon as possible. Mariano made the list for the Leganés game despite having only one training session under his belt but didn't come off the bench in the end...
Mariano to step forward
The striker was brought back on the express wishes of Julen, who will give him a more prominent role within the team that he had under Zidane in 2016-17. That season, Mariano only racked up a meagre 302 minutes of playing time (5% in total). Despite that, he made the most ofevery opportunity he was given and ended with five goals. But he was never going to get a look-in with Álvaro Morata as Benzema's direct substitute - that condemned him to a secondary role in the side that particular season.
First minutes in Bilbao
The coach plans to hand Mariano his first minutes of the season in the second half against Athletic, as Benzema is set to start. The French striker is in the form of his life (five goals in the first four official games) as is Lopetegui's first choice to lead the attack - he has started and completed the full 90 minutes of all of Madrid's games so far. On top of that, he's also been free to focus on his game in Valdebebas as he has hasn't been distracted by international duty.
Source: AS / Sergio Santos Chozas