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.
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.