Not many expected Andriy Lunin to explode onto the scene in the manner he has this season at Real Madrid. The youngster endured a long battle with Kepa Arrizabalaga for the starting role in goal and has finally come out on top.
He stood out once again in the team’s recent clash against Atletico Madrid which ended in a draw. While the result was harsh on the men in white, he was one of the pioneers who helped Real Madrid retain their lead until the 92nd minute.
In a recent interview with El Chiringuito, the Ukrainian goalkeeper spoke on his improved form this season and the factors that pushed him towards taking giant strides in his development.
“I understood perfectly when Real Madrid signed another goalkeeper,” he said, implying that Kepa’s arrival had a big part to play.
Lunin then went on to admit that he was not certain of his future amidst rumours that he will serve as Thibaut Courtois’ backup next season.
“My future? I don’t even know. I want to stay.”
Finally, Lunin described how it felt to play at the new Santiago Bernabeu, the energy in the stadium and the adrenaline rush that the sheer number of supporters there provided.
“It’s something incredible when the Santiago Bernabéu chants your name, for a boy like me from a town of 30,000 people, I never imagined it, it’s something from another world.”
Lunin is expected to start later this week when Real Madrid take on Girona in a critical match in La Liga. With just two points separating the leaders and the team not having any fit centre-backs, a big part of the result will ride on Lunin’s shoulders.
Ancelotti considering playing a makeshift centre-back pairing for Real Madrid against Valencia – report
Real Madrid will take on Valencia on Saturday, looking to maintain their solid lead at the top of the league table.
The Spanish giants are leading the standing with a six-point lead over Girona. A win against Valencia could help them solidify their position at the top while potentially opening up an opportunity to extend the lead to more than six points.
Heading into this game, though, Carlo Ancelotti is facing multiple setbacks, especially in the defensive unit, with Eder Militao, David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois still missing due to injuries.
This will once again put pressure on Ancelotti, as far as the team selection is concerned.
Rudiger & Tchouameni to partner at centre-back vs Valencia
Fortunately for the Real Madrid coach, much of his experimentations this season have worked, including Aurelien Tchouameni’s supreme performances at centre-back.
With that in mind, Diario AS reports Ancelotti is considering playing a makeshift central defensive pair against Valencia, comprising Antonio Rudiger and Tchouameni.
This is not the first time the young Frenchman will have to accompany Rudiger at centre-back. He did so earlier in the year when Real Madrid took on RCD Mallorca.
Interestingly, Real Madrid were able to retain a clean sheet, with Rudiger scoring the winning goal, in a narrow 1-0 victory.
What are Ancelotti’s other options?
Ancelotti will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around. However, it must be noted that the Italian will be boosted by the return of Dani Carvajal from suspension.
The veteran Spaniard can be an option at centre-back. But given the way how Tchouameni has impressed onlookers with his performances at centre-back, there is very little reason why he shouldn’t continue in the position.
Tchouameni has even been compared to Javier Mascherano by former Spanish coach Roberto Moreno.
Other than Carvajal, though, Nacho Fernandez is another option for Ancelotti. But the veteran defender is suffering with discomfort and Ancelotti has no plans to risk it.