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Ancelotti likely to rest Real Madrid defensive mainstay against Union Berlin – report

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Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger is likely to be rested against Union Berlin in the final group stage match of the UEFA Champions League, reports MARCA (h/t Madrid Xtra).

The report adds that the German defender, who started against Real Betis in the recent 1-1 draw, is expected to be replaced by Nacho for the game.

Rudiger has accumulated more than 1700 minutes across 20 games in all competitions for Real Madrid this season, making it an obvious choice for Carlo Ancelotti to rest him in the Champions League tie, which is anyway going to be a dead rubber since Los Blancos have already qualified for the next round.

Rudiger is a pure leader in the locker room

This season, Rudiger has emerged as the linchpin of Real Madrid’s defence, seamlessly filling the void left by Eder Militao’s absence. 

Beyond his stellar on-field contributions, Rudiger’s influence extends into the locker room, as seen by a memorable incident at the Benito Villamarin during the clash against Real Betis.

In a display of leadership, Rudiger interrupted Jude Bellingham’s celebration, showcasing a proactive role in maintaining team discipline and thus putting out a potential fire.

Antonio Rudiger is a leader in Real Madrid locker room. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite not holding the captain’s armband, the German took it upon himself to approach the referee, ensuring order that could have been hampered after the Englishman’s goal.

The incident happened right after Bellingham’s opening goal in the 53rd minute. The midfielder directed a kiss towards a specific individual, who happened to be a Betis fan. 

Rudiger identified a potential spark and promptly put it out, showcasing not only his defensive prowess on the pitch but also his captain-like demeanour off it.

It was one of several incidents and moments throughout the season that highlighted Rudiger’s leadership and importance to the team, with the German ensuring that Eder Militao’s absence has not been felt at all.

However, after getting more than 360 minutes of action in each of Madrid’s last four games, the defender will likely require rest.

As a result, Ancelotti is largely expected to turn to club captain Nacho, who has featured much more than last season.

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Features

Real Madrid’s best lineup next season with Kroos retiring, Mbappe and Endrick joining

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Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

It is set up to be a transformative summer for Real Madrid. After the UEFA Champions League final has concluded and the grand showdown finally has a victor, the Merengues are expected to undergo a squad revamp.

Indeed, the Santiago Bernabeu is preparing to welcome several high-profile signings, while also bidding farewell to some beloved Madrid legends.

Considering the potential arrivals of Kylian Mbappe and Endrick, as well as Toni Kroos’ recent retirement, here is how Real Madrid could shape up next season:

Goalkeeper

Having made a long-awaited return from injury, Thibaut Courtois is anticipated to guard Real Madrid’s goal next season once more.

The Belgian goalie has already started featuring in the starting XI and is expected to play against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final, too.

As such, his place for next season is hardly in doubt. However, unlike previous seasons, he will face much fiercer competition from Andriy Lunin, who has enjoyed a stellar campaign.

Defence

Fortifications in the defensive line remain high on Real Madrid’s priority list in the upcoming summer transfer window. However, even with the given options the Royal Whites boast assurance and grit in their back-line.

The likely occupants on the flanks would be Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy, who have both produced great exhibitions throughout the campaign.

Ferland Mendy has the full trust of Carlo Ancelotti. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Carvajal is known to punish defensive lines and on the defensive end, his anticipation of forwards has been equally appreciable.

Meanwhile, Mendy’s resurgence this season has earned him immense faith from the coaching staff, as his defensive aptitude continues to set him apart.

In the centre-back positions, Real Madrid are expected to rely on the dependable figures of Antonio Rudiger and Eder Militao.

Real Madrid consider Rudiger to be indispensable owing to his front-footed style and the important role he has had to play amidst the injury crisis. Similarly, Militao is valued by the team as he proceeds to regain match fitness after recovering from a long-term injury.

Midfield

The void of Toni Kroos in midfield will compel coach Carlo Ancelotti and co. to
reconsider their midfield strategy.

Real Madrid will be unable to count on Kroos next season. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Thankfully for Real Madrid, their succession stage had begun a while ago and they have ample options to trust in the center of the park.

With Aurelien Tchouameni protecting the base of midfield, Real Madrid will possess security and deep progression.

Ahead, occupying the interior midfield positions, Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga are well-suited to provide a combination of energy off the ball and threat in possession.

And to put the cherry on top, Jude Bellingham’s place as the number 10 behind the two strikers would certify his status as a pivotal playmaker and scorer in the team’s setup.

However, he is adept at making third-man runs and connecting the midfield with the offence and could play deeper to not only make up for Kroos’ absence but also facilitate more options up front.

Attack

Real Madrid’s offensive department is where the largest reform is expected to take place.

Kylian Mbappe’s goalscoring instincts need little introduction by now and he is thus anticipated to be fielded as the striker.

Vinicius Jr. is expected to take up the position as a secondary striker drifting from the left, something he has become quite accustomed to this season.

Endrick will have to battle for a starting spot. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

It is worth noting that Endrick could also play a part by either replacing Vinicius off the bench and playing off Mbappe.

It remains to be seen how many men forward Ancelotti will commit to but the presence of Mbappe and Vinicius seems set in stone, given their huge profiles and status in world football. How the manager uses Rodrygo Goes will be interesting to see as well.

All in all, considering Ancelotti’s proficiency in profiling players, Madrid fans can expect to see these stars play in favourable environments.

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