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Camavinga, Nacho start in a 4-3-1-2: How Real Madrid could line up against Man City

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

In under ten hours, Real Madrid will lock horns with Manchester City as the two sides will battle it out for a place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Real Madrid and Man City played out a 3-3 draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie last week, leaving everything to be played for in tonight’s contest at the Etihad Stadium.

Carlo Ancelotti has an almost full-strength squad at his disposal for the match, with only three players being absent.

Aurelien Tchouameni is suspended after receiving his third yellow card of the Champions League in the first leg while David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois are out with injuries.

Ancelotti rotated his troops to an extent over the weekend against RCD Mallorca and will reinstate his regulars into the starting XI tonight at the Etihad Stadium as Real Madrid hope to book a spot in the UCL semi-finals.

Starters

Andriy Lunin is a guaranteed starter in goal for Real Madrid and will once again be in for a stern test against a very dangerous Manchester City outfit.

The Ukrainian international will be shielded by the centre-back pairing of Antonio Rudiger and captain Nacho Fernandez, who will start ahead of Eder Militao in the absence of Aurelien Tchouameni.

A huge test awaits the Real Madrid captain. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Dani Carvajal will return to the starting lineup at right-back after being benched against Mallorca. He will have a battle on his hands against Jack Grealish. Ferland Mendy will feature as usual on the left side of the defence.

Moving into the middle of the park, Eduardo Camavinga becomes the obvious starter as the base of the midfield unit in the absence of Tchouameni.

The French international will have support from Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos as they try and negate the influence of the Manchester City midfield unit possibly comprising Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, and Bernardo Silva.

Jude Bellingham will line up at the tip of the diamond midfield setup for Real Madrid and will hope to have a bigger influence than he managed in the first leg last week.

Up top, Rodrygo Goes is expected to return to the starting XI tomorrow after sitting out against Mallorca due to a knock.

Rodrygo will be partnered by his compatriot Vinicius Jr. in attack, with the latter likely to play more centrally and the former operating more towards the left.

Substitutes

Brahim Diaz will get some minutes in the second half on what will be a return to his former home for the Spaniard.

Luka Modric is another player who is bound to come on at some point in the game, in what could potentially end up being his final Champions League game for Real Madrid if they do not qualify for the semi-finals and he leaves in the summer.

Joselu is also someone Carlo Ancelotti turns to during games to add a different flavour and profile in attack. Fran Garcia could be an option to replace Ferland Mendy if the manager seeks a greater attacking threat from the left side.

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Features

Three takeaways from Real Madrid 3-2 Barcelona | La Liga

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Jude Bellingham stunned the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys when Real Madrid met Barcelona last year in La Liga with a stunning brace including a stoppage-time winner.

Last night, once again, he came up clutch to give his side all three points against the same opposition in stoppage time.

The 90 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu were far from easy for Real Madrid, especially with Barcelona dominating parts of the game and creating good chances in the final third.

However, the dressing room was clear about their objective from the get-go, and nothing, it appeared, could make them take their eyes off the target. After a valiant 90-minute battle, the scoreboard read 3-2 in Real Madrid’s favour.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid’s emphatic El Clasico win.

Two gems shine bright

Coming off a difficult 120-minute shift against Manchester City midweek, it was always going to take a herculean effort from the Real Madrid dressing room to find a way past Barcelona.

After all, the team were far from their best from a physical standpoint, and Carlo Ancelotti’s rotations on the night reiterated the same.

While the eventual 3-2 win was possible only courtesy of a comprehensive team effort with contributions from all over the field, two players impressed in particular – Jude Bellingham and Lucas Vazquez.

The right-back was Real Madrid’s best player on the night, constantly creating pressure and threats in the Barcelona area. Playing down the right flank, he dominated Barcelona star Joao Cancelo and made the wing his own.

Vazquez won Real Madrid the penalty that helped them get back into the game after an early setback and did so with fine trickery on the edge of the area. Eventually, Barcelona’s young Pau Cubarsi was forced to make contact and bring the dynamic full-back down.

When Real Madrid went down a goal once more, Vazquez timed his run into the box with perfection to get onto the end of Vinicius Jr’s cross and slam it in the first time.

If his goal and assist were not enough to cap off a special display, it was Vazquez’s pass in the dying minutes of the game that created the opening for the team’s winning goal.

Bellingham, meanwhile, significantly stepped up from his recent lean patch and effectively dictated Real Madrid’s play in the final third. In addition to scoring the game-changing winner, he completed two key passes, 100% of his dribbles and four accurate long balls on the night.

A team with elite mentality

Elite mentality. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

Only Real Madrid can pull off the comebacks they have in the last week, especially given the special circumstances surrounding each game.

The clash against Pep Guardiola’s side midweek was the most gruelling 120 minutes of football Los Blancos have played all year. Despite being dominated for the most part, they came out clutch and defended valiantly to pull through on penalties.

Last night, still sore from their overtime duty on Wednesday, Real Madrid faced a stiff challenge against a relatively fresh Barcelona. The game, once again, showed why they boast of a mentality as elite as it gets.

Los Blancos went behind twice on the night, yet pulled back the deficit on both occasions to level the scores. A draw was a good enough result for Ancelotti’s men as it would give them a good lead ahead of the final six games in La Liga.

Having played the 90 minutes against Barcelona, the men in white could well have defended deep and settled for a draw. That, after all, would be the natural reaction of any weary party.

Yet, they pushed high and hard for a winner. With a draw in hand and the title in their grasp, they still gunned on for a win and were rewarded with Jude Bellingham’s clutch goal.

Is there a more mentally resilient team in the world? Probably not.

League in the bag

Having secured the critical win over Barcelona, the full-time whistle last night saw celebrations like none other.

Emotions poured out on the Real Madrid bench with players clenching their fists and pumping them into the air. The stadium chanted the chorus in unison, for they too knew what the result meant.

Three points secured against the second-placed team now take Real Madrid a staggering 11 points clear of Barcelona on the standings. Only six games remain to be played in La Liga, and the Merengues would have to lose four of them to let go of the title now.

Thus, for all practical purposes, Real Madrid are the champions of Spain. It may take a few more weeks for the accolade to be mathematically and officially theirs, but one can rely on the group to ensure that there are no slip-ups between now and the day the title is theirs.

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