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Francis Coquelin starts at centre-back for Valencia against Real Madrid

The former Arsenal favourite will be up against Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema

For the first time in 280 days, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo will play together up front for Real Madrid, as they take on La Liga rivals Valencia. 

The trio last started together in April’s El Clasico, when they lost 3-2 at the Bernabeu.

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Since then, ‘BBC’ have been unable to play together due to Bale and Benzema’s constant injury problems, although they were briefly reunited last week when Benzema came on towards the end of Madrid’s 7-1 thrashing of Deportivo.

2/3 of BBC

Getty Images - Getty
2/3 of BBC

And who’ll be faced with the task of stopping the deadly trio?

None other than former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin. 

Valencia’s back-line has taken a bit of a hit in recent weeks, with Gabriel Paulista, Jeison Murillo and Ruben Vezo all out of today’s game through injury or suspension.

So Coquelin comes in as a makeshift centre-back alongside Ezequiel Garay.

Madrid go into today’s game on the back of Wednesday night’s shock Copa del Rey exit at home to Leganes.

Zidane’s side lost 2-1 to the minnows at the Bernabeu on away goals, leaving just the Champions League as their only realistic hope of silverware this season.

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The title-holders are currently fourth in La Liga, five points behind high-flying Valencia, one point ahead of Villarreal and a massive 19 adrift of table-toppers Barcelona.

Could be a make or break game for Zidane.