Ronaldo starts Clasico as Isco joins Bale on Madrid bench


Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in Real Madrid's starting line-up for El Clasico after overcoming a calf complaint but Isco must settle for a place on the bench alongside fit-again Gareth Bale.

Ronaldo scored the winner in last weekend's 1-0 Club World Cup final triumph over Gremio but had his preparations hindered by a minor injury.

Zinedine Zidane told a pre-match news conference the five-time Ballon d'Or winner would play, but attacking flair has been sacrificed elsewhere in the Madrid line-up for a game that LaLiga's champions enter 11 points behind their bitter rivals at the top of the table.

Mateo Kovacic makes a first league start of the season and will provide greater central midfield insurance, lining up alongside Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro, although in Isco, Bale and Marco Asensio, Zidane has enviable game-breaking options on the bench.

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has also made his contribution to what promises to be a heavily congested midfield, with Sergio Busquets replacing forward Paco Alcacer in the only change from the 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna last time out.

Busquets will operate in his customary position at the base of a midfield featuring familiar partners Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta, along with Brazil international Paulinho.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez lead the Barca attack, with Karim Benzema selected as Ronaldo's foil up front.