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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

Benzema, Camavinga start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against Liverpool



Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will look to secure their place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League when they take on Premier League bigwigs Liverpool in the second leg of their Round of 16 encounter tonight.

The Merengues are already in a solid position thanks to their 5-2 comeback victory in the first leg at Anfield, led by brilliant performances from Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema.

But the job is far from done as the Reds are perfectly capable of mounting a strong comeback, having done so in the past against Barcelona only a few years ago. The recent 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United also showed the capabilities of Jurgen Klopp’s men.

So, Carlo Ancelotti & co. will need to be professional and get the job done while guarding against any sort of complacency. The manager has a near-full squad at his disposal, with David Alaba the only player missing with an injury.

With the game set to kick off at the Santiago Bernabeu later tonight, Madrid Universal takes a look at how Los Blancos could line up against Liverpool.


Thibaut Courtois is a certain starter in goal for Real Madrid and will look to keep a clean sheet this time out after letting in two goals at Anfield in the reverse fixture.

The Belgian international will likely be shielded by the centre-back pairing of Eder Militao, who was in fine nick against Espanyol over the weekend, and Antonio Rudiger.

Dani Carvajal is a guaranteed starter at right-back, while Nacho Fernandez is set to get the nod on the left side after his solid performance after coming on as a substitute at Anfield. Ferland Mendy is back in the squad, but is unlikely to be thrust into the spotlight right away.

Moving into the middle of the park, Carlo Ancelotti has always banked on the experience of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos for the big games, and that will not change tonight against Liverpool at the Bernabeu.

Ancelotti’s trusted lieutenants. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The defensive midfield slot is up for grabs with neither Aurelien Tchouameni nor Eduardo Camavinga impressing against Espanyol. But, Camavinga has been in a much better nick in recent times than his compatriot and should get the nod.

As for the attacking trident, captain Karim Benzema is back in the squad after sitting out against Espanyol with an ankle issue. He is certain to start as the centre-forward while Vinicius Jr is a certainty on the left flank.

On the right, the likes of Rodrygo Goes, Marco Asensio and Federico Valverde are all options for Ancelotti, but it is the latter who is likely to get the nod tonight.

Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Modric, Camavinga, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius.


Rodrygo Goes has often made a big impact coming off the bench, especially in the big games and is certain to get minutes at some stage against Liverpool. Marco Asensio is another player who can provide goals from the bench and can be an asset.

Alternatively, if Carlo Ancelotti is looking to shore things up in midfield, the energy of Dani Ceballos might come in handy while Aurelien Tchouameni would also be in contention.

Youngster Alvaro Rodriguez has been making quite an impression of late and could get some minutes under his belt as well.

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