When Real Madrid missed out on the signing of Neymar several years ago, they fixed their eyes on the Brazilian market with the objective of not letting a similar talent slip past their radar. Truth be told, Los Blancos have been successful in their mission.
Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and Eder Militao represent a new generation of up-and-coming Brazilian stars set to write history at the Santiago Bernabeu. All three players have been phenomenal since their arrival at the club, but it is Vinicius who has stolen most of the limelight.
And now, according to AS (h/t Madrid Xtra), Carlo Ancelotti believes that the 2022/23 season is the breakout season for Rodrygo. The youngster is already an undisputed starter in the manager’s eyes and is expected to only rise in prominence.
His compatriot, Vinicius Jr enjoyed a similar exponential rise last year. The only conspicuous hole in the 22-year-old’s game was thought to be his finishing, and his attacking output only grew after he worked on that flaw.
Vinicius scored 21 goals and provided 16 assists in the season and was a constant terror from the left flank.
Now, the spotlight has shifted to his compatriot, Rodrygo. The 21-year-old has four goals and three assists in just nine appearances this season. His dribbling prowess and astute finishing make him a monster in the final third, and the best is yet to come.
The 21-year-old was instrumental in Los Blancos’ win over Shakhtar Donetsk midweek as he scored one goal and provided one assist. Needless to say, the youngster could well be part of an untouchable trident alongside Karim Benzema and Vinicius by the end of the season.
The former Santos prodigy has also shown that he can help the team out in a central role in the absence of Benzema, and is tipped to start as the No. 9 against Getafe later tonight.
Bellingham, Brahim start in a 4-4-2: How Real Madrid could line up against Granada
Having reclaimed the top spot in the La Liga table last weekend, Real Madrid will be eager to consolidate their position when they host Granada at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Real Madrid are currently on a four-game winning streak across all competitions, having beaten SC Braga, Valencia, Cadiz, and more recently Napoli.
Despite the spate of injuries affecting the squad, Carlo Ancelotti & co. have found a way to keep the winning momentum going and will be eager to bag another victory at home tomorrow.
Granada, meanwhile, find themselves at the opposite end of the table, but there could be a case of the new-manager bounce, for they recently replaced Paco Lopez with Alexander Medina as their head coach.
Real Madrid go into the game without Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao, Arda Guler, Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga, Luka Modric, and Vinicius Jr., all of whom are injured.
Here’s how Ancelotti could set his team up at the Santiago Bernabeu when they take on Granada tomorrow.
Kepa Arrizabalaga is fit again and has been included in the Real Madrid squad list to face Granada after missing the last four matches. However, Andriy Lunin will again be preferred in goal tomorrow, as was confirmed by manager Ancelotti during his presser.
Ancelotti has a decision to make his team selection as tomorrow’s game could be a good chance for him to rotate. At the same time, with no midweek fixture coming up, the Italian could be tempted to stick with his strongest XI.
As such, the Real Madrid manager could continue with the centre-back pairing of Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba, while Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy should take up the full-back positions on the right and left sides, respectively.
Since the injuries to Camavinga and Tchouameni, Toni Kroos has operated in the pivot midfield position, albeit with support from Federico Valverde. Meanwhile, Dani Ceballos will get another starting opportunity in the injury-enforced absence of Modric.
Jude Bellingham is fit and ready to play despite an injury scare during training earlier today. The 20-year-old Englishman will start in his usual role as the attacking midfielder and pose a threat to the opposition backline.
Ancelotti opted to partner Brahim Diaz with Rodrygo Goes in the attacking department against Napoli earlier this week. Given how the two performed, the manager is unlikely to tinker with the pairing.
Real Madrid Predicted Lineup: Lunin, Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy, Kroos, Valverde, Ceballos, Bellingham, Brahim, Rodrygo.
Carlo Ancelotti will turn to Joselu to reinforce the attacking department during the game, while young Nico Paz is likely to get more minutes again after scoring his first senior goal for Real Madrid against Napoli.
Captain Nacho Fernandez is likely to come onto the pitch to provide some relief to one of the two centre-backs during the latter stages of the contest. Fran Garcia could replace Ferland Mendy.
Young forward Gonzalo Garcia is another academy talent who could be in for some minutes on Saturday.