Sitting rather comfortably on top of the league, Real Madrid face one of their biggest challenges before they can seal their first trophy for the season. They travel to Seville to take on Julian Nagelsmann’s Sevilla for gameweek 32 in La Liga.
While Madrid are in spectacular form heading into the tie, with eight wins in the last ten games, the same cannot be said about Sevilla.
After being knocked out by West Ham in the Europa League round of 16, Sevilla drew 0-0 against Real Sociedad, and then lost 1-0 vs Barcelona.
While the Palanganas secured a 4-2 win against Granada, they did not look too comfortable during the game, and conceded twice in the league for the first time since 22nd January.
Heading into the tie, Carlo Ancelotti has a few problems at hand. Not only did his side play 120 minutes in midweek against Chelsea, but he does not have the services of Casemiro either.
In such a situation, the starting lineup itself could dictate the outcome of the game. Madrid Universal takes a look at how Los Blancos could line up against Sevilla tomorrow night.
Madrid did not have Eder Militao for their Champions League clash against Chelsea, but the Brazilian is expected to return to the starting lineup tomorrow night. He will likely partner David Alaba in the heart of the defence.
With Ferland Mendy injured, any casualties in the backline could cost Real Madrid massively. We expect Lucaz Vazquez to start at right-back after Carvajal’s two-hour shift in midweek. Nacho Fernandez will likely take the left-back spot.
No doubt over the gloves as Thibaut Courtois continues to maintain his position as one of the, if not the best goalkeeper in Europe this season.
The biggest question mark in midfield will be Casemiro’s replacement. Eduardo Camavinga is expected to take his place there, especially after Federico Valverde’s tiring shift in the UCL.
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric retain their place in central midfield, with the former hoping to make much more of an impact than he did against Chelsea.
Karim Benzema looked like he had picked up an injury in the Champions League, but trained with the group. As such, he should man the centre-forward position in the attack.
Vinicius Jr and Marco Asensio will probably round of the attack. The latter is much more of an attacking threat than Rodrygo, which will be required against a tight defence like that of Sevilla.
Predicted Real Madrid XI:
Vinicius · Benzema · Asensio
Kroos · Camavinga · Modric
Nacho · Alaba · Militao · Vazquez
Should Real Madrid take a comfortable lead in the first half, we can expect to see some early changes in the second half, starting with some much-needed rest for Modric and Benzema.
Valverde is in contention to start, but should he not, he will almost definitely come off the bench in any case. Gareth Bale, too, could come on to replace ‘Benz’, as he has, so often this season.
Dani Ceballos could be asked to come on to add more depth to the midfield, much like the Chelsea clash. Rodrygo, too, is definitely in with a shout with a chance to replace one of the attackers.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia
For all the institutional and sporting catastrophes Valencia suffer from, they put up a resilient show against Real Madrid last month and held them to a draw in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup.
Having fired Gennaro Gattuso less than 48 hours ago, Los Che will be under the command of an interim coach at Santiago Bernabeu in the hope of repeating their feat from Saudi Arabia.
After all, they are struggling this season with just 20 points in 18 league appearances.
Valencia may not be the top team it used to be a couple of seasons ago, but there is a fighting spirit to the squad that makes them special.
As Real Madrid looks to make amends for their dropped points against La Real, some important considerations cross the manager’s mind regarding the clash against Los Che.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia.
1. More names at Ancelotti’s disposal
Real Madrid’s long injury list has been a thorn in Carlo Ancelotti’s feet for a long time now. While the manager has had close to five players unavailable through fitness concerns, two names were considered irreplaceable.
Daniel Carvajal is the first on that list. The Spanish International’s presence gave the club hope after Lucas Vazquez’s injury last month, but almost as if planned, the 30-year-old immediately suffered a blow in training and was forced to sit out.
For four games, Ancelotti was thus forced to field Nacho Fernandez as his right-back. The centre-back did a good job at covering out of position, however, will be pushed back to the bench on Thursday as Los Blancos celebrate the return of Carvajal.
The defender is not the only one making his way back, as Aurelien Tchouameni also received the medical all-clear earlier this week.
The French pivot hobbled off an hour into Real Madrid’s league clash against Villarreal in the first week of January and has been sidelined for close to a month.
His absence pushed his coach to try numerous permutations in midfield, but it was finally Eduardo Camavinga who stamped his authority on the position.
With Tchouameni back roaring, his place in the starting lineup seems to be written in stone. One can expect the Frenchman to be deployed alongside Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos for his return to action on Thursday.
2. Concern shifts from right to left-back
The Merengues will finally have a natural right-back available to play against Valencia midweek. However, that does not signal the end of the Italian tactician’s trouble-riddles period.
Just when one full-back position returned to a state of normalcy, Real Madrid now have a crisis at left-back.
Ferland Mendy picked up a thigh injury earlier this week and will miss the team’s next two months of action at least. To say that this is a big blow to the club’s plans would be an understatement, for Mendy was the only natural left-back available in the squad.
David Alaba would appear to be the best-placed alternative, but the Austrian is ruled out through injury himself. Placed at a lack of options, Ancelotti confirmed in his press conference earlier today that Eduardo Camavinga would play there against Valencia.
The youngster has played in the defensive position earlier but will face the heat going up against Jose Luis Gaya at Santiago Bernabeu.
Given that Valencia’s right flank put up a memorable display when the two teams met last month, one can be certain that Camavinga’s performance can make or break Real Madrid’s night.
3. No margin for error
Less than halfway through the league season, Los Blancos already find themselves five points behind Barcelona. The wide gap is not a consequence of the defending champions’ poor form but the sheer consistency of Xavi Hernandez’s men, who cannot stop winning.
Having won the Supercopa de Espana last month, the Catalans are currently riding high on confidence. With their season heading from strength to strength, Real Madrid must hold on and wait for the right opportunity to topple the tables.
The Galacticos‘ draw against Real Sociedad added two points to the gap between the top two sides last week. At this stage, Ancelotti’s men cannot afford any further slip-ups for a larger gap would be too much for the men in white to compensate.
Every game henceforth will be a final for Real Madrid in La Liga. Three points are the bare minimum the club can walk away with from any fixture, and that mission will start from their game against Valencia.