Real Madrid have managed to carry on their spectacular end to last season, winning the Champions League and La Liga, and have translated that into an unbeaten run across all competitions so far this season.
Despite that, though, they sit just shy of Barcelona in La Liga. While both teams are level on points, the Catalans’ superior goal difference perches them top of the league.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men will be looking to change that today as they host Barça for the first El Clasico of the season.
Madrid are well prepared for the game, missing just Thibaut Courtois for the clash. And while that could prove to be a lethal absence, they have all other members of the starting lineup fit.
Speaking of which, Los Blancos rotated heavily vs Shakhtar Donetsk, but will grace the Bernabeu with their best team today.
In Courtois’ absence, there is little to no doubt who will don the gloves for El Clasico – Andriy Lunin. The Ukrainian has been decent in goal for the past few games, adding the element of playing out comfortably from the back.
While Ferland Mendy has done well as Madrid’s starting left-back, Ancelotti could resort to using David Alaba in that role tomorrow. He even hinted about the same during his pre-game press conference.
Eder Militao will return to the lineup, while Antonio Rudiger retains his spot after scoring the equaliser in the Champions League. We round off the lineup with Dani Carvajal on the right side of the backline.
The midfield should be rather easy to choose. Eduardo Camavinga has not quite replicated his performances from last season, and will start from the bench, while Luka Modric is expected to return to the XI.
Toni Kroos will be hoping to keep up his performance from midweek, taking his place in the centre of the park alongside Aurelien Tchouameni.
The attack picks itself, as it has so often, in big games under Carlo Ancelotti. Federico Valverde should get the nod at right-wing owing to his incredible form, work-rate, and his past performances against Barcelona.
In his aid, we predict Vinicius Jr to return to Ancelott’s team sheet, as the left-winger. Karim Benzema will take on the role of the centre-forward in the attacking trio.
Vinicius · Benzema · Valverde
Kroos · Tchouameni · Modric
Alaba · Rudiger · Militao · Carvajal
Rodrygo and Camavinga gained reputations as Madrid’s game-changers last season. While the former has managed to replicate, and in fact, better his form this campaign, the latter has left a lot to be desired.
Ferland Mendy is an excellent asset for Madrid, even if he does not start. We could see him come on for one of the defenders if the hosts are trailing a game.
Similarly, Ancelotti could rely on the services of Lucas Vazquez as the right-back or even the right-winger. He contributes different things depending on his role, and will prove to be useful one way or another.
Finally, Marco Asensio has seen himself linked to Barcelona over the past few months, but tomorrow, he will be hoping to do damage to the Blaugranes‘ defence.
Three talking points ahead of Valencia vs Real Madrid | La Liga GW 27
Back in November, Real Madrid locked horns with Valencia for the first time in the 2023-24 campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu. Their outing on the night could not have gone better as they put five goals past a helpless opposition who completely deflated under pressure.
A Dani Carvajal goal followed by braces from Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo sealed the deal on the night, with Valencia’s compensation coming in the form of a late, and solitary goal, from Hugo Duro.
On Saturday night, the two teams lock horns again. This time, Los Che will have the home advantage and the single factor could well be responsible for the drastic change in resistance Los Blancos could face on the night. After all, the Mestalla is not an easy fortress to conquer.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Valencia vs Real Madrid.
Real Madrid have been without Jude Bellingham for close to three weeks now. The talisman last featured for Los Blancos in their 4-0 drubbing of Girona, but an ankle injury forced him off the field and out of action.
The youngster was soon joined by Joselu on the sidelines after the Spanish veteran suffered an ankle injury in training last week. Tests revealed a poor prognosis, effectively ruling Joselu out for three weeks.
Bellingham’s return to fitness has been speculated for a while now, and Ancelotti confirmed the same in his pre-match press conference. Bellingham will be available for selection on the night and could well start against Valencia.
The second recovery from injury, of Joselu, is nothing short of miraculous. Having been diagnosed with bone edema, it is almost unbelievable that the veteran is back in action just seven days later.
With Ancelotti confirming the duo’s availability on the night, Real Madrid can breathe a sigh of relief. After all, they will be rejuvenated in the final third where they have had to depend on just Vinicius Jr, Brahim Diaz, and Rodrygo Goes. A massive boost.
Playing Valencia at the Mestalla can be hell. History is a testament that the historic stadium is a fortress for Los Che, one that even the best teams in the world often falter at.
The story for Real Madrid at Mestalla is no different. The men in white may have dominated most of Spain’s stadiums over the years, but their record at Valencia’s home is not particularly encouraging.
Real Madrid and Los Che have locked horns at Mestalla ten times since 2015. Of those, Los Blancos have emerged victors just three times. Valencia have won on a staggering five occasions while two ended in a draw.
More worryingly, the Merengues have conceded a total of 17 goals in the aforementioned ten outings while scoring 16 times. Their most recent meeting, last season, ended in a 1-0 win for the hosts which currently reflects as the one-goal lead over the nine years.
If reports in the media are to be believed, the weekend’s clash between the leaders and Ruben Baraja’s side is sold out. The Mestalla will be at full capacity for the first time this season, and it is clear that a frightening atmosphere awaits Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
Conquering the Mestalla after failing last season will hand the Merengues a big boost not only on the table but in terms of confidence heading into the fag end of the season. A defeat, meanwhile, could see their lead at the top cut to three points.
Need for conviction
Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last eight games across all competitions. Their only defeats this season have come to Atletico Madrid, and it is clear that they are sailing with the tide of momentum.
Yet, there has been something strangely tight about the team’s recent games.
Right from the 1-0 win over Leipzig where the Germans dominated and deserved a win in the UEFA Champions League, Ancelotti’s men have appeared slightly out of tune.
The tight UCL win was followed by a 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano in La Liga that can only be described as fair. After all, the hosts created as much, if not more threat than Real Madrid on the night.
Most recently, the Merengues salvaged a tight 1-0 win over Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu. The deadlock did not break until the 81st minute of the night, and only a Golazo from Luka Modric ensured that they took home three points.
Los Blancos, thus, are in dire need of a win with conviction. A showing like the performance they dished out against Girona will go a long way, especially with the second leg of the UCL Round of 16 just around the corner.
Will Bellingham’s return to the XI do the trick for Real Madrid in that sense? Or are they lacking something apart from the English protege’s brilliance? Only time will tell.