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Benzema, Modric return in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against Villarreal



Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid’s next challenge in the defence of their La Liga title takes them to Estadio de la Ceramica where they face Villarreal later today.

The Merengues are have picked up two wins in two matches across all competitions since the return of club football after the World Cup, even though they have looked well below their best.

With a difficult challenge coming up away at Villarreal, where they have not seen much success in recent years, Carlo Ancelotti & co. will be aiming to set things right and return home with three points in the bag.

Ahead of the contest, Madrid Universal takes a look at how the manager could set up his side against Quique Setien’s team later in the evening today.


The good news for Real Madrid heading into the Villarreal clash is that first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is back in the squad after missing the midweek cup clash with a knock. The Belgian is certain to replace Andriy Lunin between the sticks at Estadio de la Ceramica.

While Courtois is back, Dani Carvajal has not recovered from his muscle overload and will miss this one out. In his place, Lucas Vazquez is set to continue at right-back against Villarreal.

Ferland Mendy, who did not feature against Cacereno, should return to the side at left-back while Eder Militao and David Alaba ought to pair up at the heart of the defence, although Antonio Rudiger is pushing for a start.

Changes are expected in the middle of the park as veteran stars Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are back in the squad after being rested for the Copa del Rey clash. The duo is pretty much guaranteed to start in this vital clash against Villarreal.

Aurelien Tchouameni is likely to be retained in the defensive midfield role after the Frenchman played only the first 45 minutes in the cup tie.

Moving into the attacking unit, captain and ace goalscorer Karim Benzema is certain to start in the No. 9 role after being rested against Cacereno. The Frenchman will carry the chief goal threat for Real Madrid, with support coming from Vinicius Jr, who did not play in midweek.

Rodrygo Goes started and scored the only goal of the game in the cup tie. And while Ancelotti spoke highly of the Brazilian, he is likely to be benched against Villarreal, with Federico Valverde expected to get the nod on the right flank.

Vinicius · Benzema · Valverde
Kroos · Tchouameni · Modric
Mendy · Alaba · Militao · Vazquez


Eduardo Camavinga has made it a habit of making a major impact after coming on from the bench. He should get some minutes against Villarreal. The same holds for Rodrygo as well, who will feel unlucky to be left out of the starting XI.

Nacho Fernandez could come on in the latter stages of the game should Ancelotti look to shut up shop or add another leader on the pitch, while Marco Asensio could also see some action for the champions at Estadio de la Ceramica.

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MU Shorts

Three Real Madrid players whose roles will change with Mbappe’s arrival



Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

Kylian Mbappe’s move from PSG to Real Madrid will be the headline of the summer irrespective of what transpires in the weeks to come.

After years of running a long-standing soap opera, the player finally secured his dream move. Now officially announced, Carlo Ancelotti and Co. can begin incorporating the star into their plans for next season.

His arrival, however, will bring with it an inevitable set of changes to the setup that won Real Madrid the Champions League last season.

In the process, several Real Madrid stars will be made to alter their roles and possibly even positions on the field to accommodate the World Cup winner.

Here are three players who will see a complete change in role after Mbappe’s signing. 

Vinicius Jr.

Vinicius will have to juggle his role with Mbappe. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

At this point, it is well established that Vinicius Jr. is one of, if not the best left-winger in world football. The Brazilian’s influence on Real Madrid’s results has only amplified exponentially in recent years. He is even the favourite to take home the Ballon d’Or after a stellar last season.

Come August, however, Vinicius will ironically find his own place in the team in jeopardy. Carlo Ancelotti’s plan will indeed be to stick with the Brazilian on the wing and deploy Kylian Mbappe as the number nine for Real Madrid next season.

Given that the Frenchman is best placed on the left, however, it is highly possible that the duo are made to swap roles with regularity.

In short, Vinicius’ position next season will largely depend on Mbappe’s adaptation. Should the new signing struggle to adapt, the Brazilian superstar could be the one to face the brunt.

Jude Bellingham

Bellingham will likely play in a deeper position. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Jude Bellingham enjoyed a stunning first season with Real Madrid, breaking records for fun and establishing himself as an elite superstar.

His role, however, will undoubtedly see a major transformation next season. After all, Carlo Ancelotti is planning a change in formation and the attacking midfield role in the 4-4-2 diamond formation will no longer be his to claim.

Likely back in a 4-3-3, Los Blancos will be well covered in the final third and Bellingham will be forced to take a step back. He will likely join forces with Aurelien Tchouameni and Federico Valverde in the proper midfield and thus play a deeper role for the men in white.

Rodrygo Goes

Rodrygo will have to settle for a place on the right flank. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

It is clear at this point that Rodrygo is the worst hit by Mbappe’s arrival for the youngster is now on the edge.

Rodrygo shone brightly playing on the left flank towards the end of the last season. But the Brazilian now has no chance of seeing minutes in his niche given the presence of two superior players ahead of him in the pecking order.

Mbappe’s arrival also means that Rodrygo will have no option but to play as a right-winger, a position in which he has not convinced much in recent times.

To rub salt into his wounds, he will also be forced to take up a more significant defensive role as the other two players in attack will contribute minimally to the press. It thus remains to be seen if the youngster can hold onto his place as a starter or struggle under the pressure. 

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