Real Madrid will look to prepare for their Copa del Rey final later this week with a victory when they face off against Real Sociedad at the Reale Arena later tonight.
After a disappointing defeat to Girona last week, Real Madrid bounced back strongly with a 4-2 victory over UD Almeria. With important fixtures against Osasuna and Manchester City coming up, it is important for the Merengues to keep building steam.
At the same time, though, manager Carlo Ancelotti is dealing with some key absences heading into tonight’s game at a difficult venue against a difficult opponent who are pushing for a top-four finish in La Liga.
Furthermore, the Real Madrid manager will also have an eye on protecting his important players for the Copa del Rey final as well. Here’s how the reigning champions could line up against the Basque club tonight at Reale Arena.
While Real Madrid could make changes across the pitch tonight, there is unlikely to be any alteration when it comes to the goal, with Thibaut Courtois expected to hold on to his spot under the woodwork.
Lucas Vazquez should continue at right-back once again, ahead of Dani Carvajal, with the latter likely to be shielded for the cup final. With David Alaba still unavailable, Eder Militao and Antonio Rudiger should continue as the centre-backs.
Moving to the left side of the defence, Nacho Fernandez becomes the obvious pick with Ferland Mendy still injured and Eduardo Camavinga out with suspension.
Aurelien Tchouameni should get the nod as the holding midfielder for Real Madrid, with the Frenchman tasked with shielding the defence. Dani Ceballos, whose future continues to be uncertain, will feature once again in the injury-enforced absence of Luka Modric.
Toni Kroos should occupy the third midfield slot for the Spanish capital club, although he will likely be taken off at some point in the second period.
Captain Karim Benzema has not been included in the squad by Carlo Ancelotti, with the manager seemingly opting to rest his ace goalscorer. In his absence, Rodrygo Goes is expected to slot in as the No. 9 for Real Madrid against Sociedad.
With Vinicius Jr missing due to a suspension, Marco Asensio could be moved to the left flank to accommodate Federico Valverde on the right, although Sergio Arribas could also be an option.
Given the lack of options, it is almost certain that Sergio Arribas will be getting some minutes for Real Madrid in the second half, that is if he does not feature from the start itself.
Forgotten man Eden Hazard could be another player who can benefit from the absences and Carlo Ancelotti’s focus on the Copa del Rey final. Youngster Alvaro Rodriguez, who is back in the squad after recovering from a minor injury, could also be in for some on-field action.
Jesus Vallejo could be called in during the latter stages as Ancelotti might want to rest Antonio Rudiger with an eye on the Osasuna clash. Nico Paz, who is generating a lot of excitement within the club, could get a chance to make his La Liga debut.
Brahim, Modric start in a 4-4-2: How Real Madrid could line up against Rayo Vallecano
Real Madrid have an excellent opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the La Liga table to eight points when they travel to Estadio de Vallecas to take on Rayo Vallecano on Sunday afternoon.
Real Madrid are currently five points clear of second-placed Girona and with the Catalans not playing until Monday night, Los Blancos have a chance to stretch their advantage with a win tomorrow.
Momentum is also on the side of Carlo Ancelotti’s men after they picked up two crucial victories against Girona (La Liga) and RB Leipzig (UEFA Champions League) over the past week.
But, Rayo Vallecano, who have a new manager in place in Inigo Perez, had managed to hold Real Madrid to a goalless draw in the reverse fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu. So, the game will not be straightforward on Sunday.
Here’s how Real Madrid could line up at the Vallecas as they look to take another step towards winning the La Liga title.
Andriy Lunin has firmly established himself as the preferred choice in goal ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga. As such, the Ukrainian should again start for Real Madrid against Rayo Vallecano.
There will be one change in the defensive line that took the field against Leipzig in midweek as Fran Garcia will step into the team at left-back with Ferland Mendy out of the squad due to suspension.
Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba, and Eder Militao are still injured, which means Aurelien Tchouameni will once again have to fill in at centre-back where he will partner captain Nacho Fernandez. Meanwhile, Dani Carvajal should continue on the right side of the defence.
Tchouameni starting in defence means one can expect Eduardo Camavinga to occupy the pivot position in the middle of the park for Real Madrid.
However, there could be a notable change in midfield, with Luka Modric getting a rare start after a period of inactivity, with Toni Kroos getting a breather. Federico Valverde will occupy the other interior midfield position for the visitors.
Brahim Diaz came off with a fitness issue against RB Leipzig in midweek, but is not injured and has been named in the squad list. Given his form, the Spaniard should again start in the hole behind the two forwards in the absence of Jude Bellingham, who is injured.
Up top, there is no looking past the Brazilian dynamic duo of Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Jr, both of whom will be raring to get on the scoresheet after not scoring against Leipzig.
Joselu is certain to come onto the pitch at some point in the game to provide a different kind of threat in the attacking third. Toni Kroos should also come off the bench, especially if things are not going Real Madrid’s way.
There could also be minutes for Arda Guler, who has not seen as much action as one would have expected since returning from injury. Dani Ceballos is also an option for Ancelotti if he wishes to relieve one of his midfielders.