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Brahim, Modric start in a 4-4-2: How Real Madrid could line up against Rayo Vallecano

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Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

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.

Starters

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.

A rare start for Luka Modric vs Rayo? (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

Substitutes

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.

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MU Shorts

Three Real Madrid players that are likely to get cut off by Carlo Ancelotti

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Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid are expected to undergo a significant overhaul this summer, with major new signings and notable departures anticipated to materialize.

Known for continually raising the bar season after season, Real Madrid could make some cuts in the roster to create space for new blood, with stars like Kylian Mbappe and Endrick set to arrive and other players also being targeted.

With merely one game left of the season and the summer transfer window looming large, here are three players facing the highest possibility of getting axed by coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Joselu

Will Joselu continue at Real Madrid? (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Joselu’s contributions this season have defied expectations. Despite minimally being availed in the starting XI, the seasoned Spaniard has 17 goals in addition to three assists throughout all competitions.

His performance against Bayern Munich particularly took the cake, as he scored two late goals to confirm Real Madrid’s qualification to the Champions League final.

However, it goes without saying, that Joselu remains far from a nailed-on starter due to the quality Los Blancos possess in their front line. And that quality is expected to soar even more from next season, with Kylian Mbappe and Endrick expected to join.

Retaining a player who will face a tremendous amount of competition from stars much younger than him increases the likelihood of hitting the exit door this summer.

Dani Ceballos

Ceballos could be on his way out. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Although Ceballos was seen making a name for himself last season, his importance under Ancelotti has waned considerably this season.

Indeed, the Spaniard has frequently found himself at the bottom of Real Madrid’s midfield hierarchy due to his inability to make a significant impression with his performances, while injuries have not helped his cause either.

Ceballos might be open to rejoining Real Betis, whom he has always referred to as the “club of his dreams.”

Reports have mentioned that he also has interest from Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid are open to exploring a move for the out-of-favour midfielder this summer.

Fran Garcia

Fran Garcia could leave only a year after returning. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images)

Fran Garcia was ranked higher than Ferland Mendy in Real Madrid’s starting lineup at the start of the season. But the Spaniard’s defensive efforts were tainted by some errors, which slowly eroded the coaching staff’s faith in him.

On the other hand, Mendy has been a beacon of consistency in the left-back position ever since he recovered from his injury issues and found his form.

In fact, the defensive left-back has been producing consistent performances ever since he made his way back into the team in the Spanish Super Cup earlier this year.

As such, Fran Garcia has thus witnessed a sharp decline in playing time and now hardly appears to be an integral part of the team.

With his contract expiring in 2027, Real Madrid could cash out on him this summer and create room for a big full-back signing, namely Alphonso Davies, while the possibility of re-signing Miguel Gutierrez is also being looked into.

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