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Benzema returns; Asensio starts in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against Shakhtar

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Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will look to secure progression to the next round of the UEFA Champions League when they take on Shakhtar Donetsk in a Group F encounter in Warsaw later tonight.

With three wins in three matches, Los Blancos are at the top of the standings and have a foot through the door to the Round of 16. Another win on Tuesday would ascertain their place in the knockout stages, which would allow Carlo Ancelotti room to rest his key players freely amidst a tight schedule.

But with the first El Clasico of the season against Barcelona coming up on Sunday, the Italian tactician might decide to select his team by prioritising the weekend encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Either way, Real Madrid still continue to be without first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois while Dani Ceballos is also out with an injury. The big news is that Karim Benzema is back in the squad after sitting out against Getafe.

Madrid Universal takes a look at the possible lineup that Ancelotti might send out in Warsaw to face Shakhtar tonight.

Starters

Andriy Lunin is a guaranteed starter for Real Madrid as they continue to cope with the absence of Courtois. However, the Ukrainian is likely to see wholesale changes in front of him.

Lucas Vazquez is in line to replace Dani Carvajal at right-back while Ancelotti is likely to hand a rare start to Nacho Fernandez at the heart of the defence, with Eder Militao set to be rested after the knock he picked up at the weekend.

Antonio Rudiger is one player who is expected to hold on to his spot in the defensive line for the Merengues from the match against Getafe. As for the left-back slot, Ancelotti has already confirmed that Ferland Mendy will be starting after being rested at the weekend.

Aurelien Tchouameni has established himself as an undroppable member of the starting XI for Real Madrid and should continue as the deepest of the three midfielders.

However, his compatriot, Eduardo Camavinga could get a run-out from the start again so that Luka Modric is kept fresh ahead of the crucial Clasico. Toni Kroos, meanwhile, will return to the starting XI, as confirmed by Ancelotti.

Benzema, too, is set to feature from the kickoff against Shakhtar and it will be important for Real Madrid that their captain finds some rhythm ahead of the Barcelona clash.

Vinicius Jr, however, could be given a breather by the manager, paving the way for Marco Asensio to start, having made a few bright cameo appearances in recent weeks. Rodrygo should take the right-wing spot, with Federico Valverde likely to be held back with El Clasico in mind.

Substitutes

Both Valverde and Vinicius will likely get some minutes in the latter part of the game or even earlier if things do not go Real Madrid’s way. Luka Modric could come on in the closing stages as well, while Eden Hazard could also stand a chance to play for a few minutes.

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MU Shorts

Five alternatives Real Madrid should consider after missing out on Leny Yoro

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Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

After months of inquiries and negotiations, Real Madrid are on the verge of missing out on the pursuit of Leny Yoro.

The LOSC Lille defender is slated for a trip to England today to complete his medical. He is later expected to sign a new deal at Manchester United until 2029.

Yoro’s likely move to Old Trafford could serve as a massive blow for Real Madrid, as they desperately look for reinforcements at centre-back.

Fortunately, the reigning European champions have an entire summer transfer window ahead of them and there should be no shortage of alternatives available in the market.

Here, at Madrid Universal, we will take a look at five players Real Madrid should target after fumbling the Leny Yoro deal.

Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton)

Jarrad Branthwaite could be an interesting option for Real Madrid. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Earlier in the year, Real Madrid were one of the clubs linked with a move for Jarrad Branthwaite, the Everton centre-back.

The 22-year-old Englishman was an ever-present figure in the Everton backline this past season, featuring in 35 league matches while scoring three goals.

Standing at 1.95m, Branthwaite has made a solid impression in England through his imposing presence at the back.

Branthwaite’s age and height are close to that of Yoro while the defender has also played under Carlo Ancelotti in the past, making him an ideal alternative for the young Frenchman.

Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)

Marc Guehi excelled at the Euros. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Marc Guehi is another Premier League player Real Madrid have been linked with in the recent past.

Known for his strong physique and ball-playing abilities, Guehi was a prominent fixture in England’s Euro 2024 squad and is regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League.

Guehi’s qualities, therefore, could prove to be useful for Real Madrid as they look to add more strength to the centre-back department.

William Saliba (Arsenal)

Saliba is one of the best CBs currently. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Premier League defenders appear to be Real Madrid’s best bets when it comes to finding an alternative for Leny Yoro and the next one on the list is William Saliba.

Over the past couple of years, Saliba has been the lynchpin in Mikel Arteta’s defensive system, helping Arsenal emerge as the main threat to Manchester City’s dominance in England.

Saliba’s proficiency with the ball, coupled with his positioning sense make him an ideal long-term defensive bet for Real Madrid.

Goncalo Inacio (Sporting CP)

Inacio has been on Real Madrid’s radar for long. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

The first non-Premier League defender on this list, Goncalo Inacio has been linked with a move to Santiago Bernabeu since the turn of the year.

Although Leny Yoro was preferred to Inacio by the Real Madrid management this summer, recent developments could once again tempt the club to look back at Inacio.

The Sporting CP starlet is regarded as one of Portugal’s finest young defenders and his immense potential makes him a solid target for Real Madrid.

Yann Bisseck (Inter Milan)

Yann Bisseck can be a fine long-term investment. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Formerly of FC Koln, Yann Bisseck has enjoyed tremendous growth following his move to Inter Milan.

With 16 league appearances for Inter Milan this past season, Bisseck has cemented his place as one of the most promising defenders in Serie A.

Aged just 23, Bisseck is known for his defensive discipline and work ethic. However, what makes him an appealing target for Real Madrid is his valuation.

The German is still in the nascent stages of his development. With Inter Milan signing him for a fee of just €7 million, Bisseck, in fact, could easily be the most cost-effective player on this list.

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