Real Madrid are just seven points away from sealing the La Liga title after Barcelona’s slip up against Cadiz at the weekend. However, there is sufficient time ahead for Ancelotti’s side to deal with the league.
On Wednesday, Los Blancos step onto the pitch with only one goal in mind — the game against Manchester City next week.
The Champions League semi-finals gives Real Madrid the chance to finish with three trophies this season, something the team would not want to compromise on.
Carlo Ancelotti must deal with one clash before the big game, and that will be at El Sadar against Osasuna. Los Blancos have not lost in their last 15 outings against the hosts and will look to improve that record on the night.
Madrid Universal takes a shot at the lineup Madrid could start with tomorrow night.
Heavy rotations are expected for the league clash, but one player who will start regardless is Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian shot-stopper has been amongst the team’s top three performers this season and will hope to stay in fine touch ahead of next week’s clash.
In central defence, David Alaba will be the centre-piece. The Austrian international has been far from perfect in recent games, especially his display against Chelsea in the second leg. He will look to make amends against Osasuna.
Eder Militao is expected to start alongside Alaba. The 24-year-old has had a great season under Ancelotti and recorded two tackles and one clearance against Sevilla. However, given the fact that Real Madrid’s defence have conceded five goals in two games in worrying.
Daniel Carvajal was the man of the match against Sevilla as he assisted two goals for his side in their comeback win. He will start at left-back given that Ferland Mendy and Marcelo will be unavailable. At right-back, one could expect Lucas Vazquez to start.
Changes are expected in midfield. Casemiro suffered a fitness blow during training on Monday and will certainly miss the midweek game. However, he is expected to return for the game against Pep Guardiola’s side. Eduardo Camavinga starts in that role, most probably.
Luka Modric will get a deserved rest, too, as was confirmed by Carlo Ancelotti. Federico Valverde will likely take his place in the lineup. The Uruguayan effectively played as as a right-winger in the last game but will be back to his usual duties tomorrow.
The final place in midfield has Toni Kroos’ name written on it. The German will have to step up against Osasuna and lead from the front, especially considering his mediocre performances in recent games.
Ancelotti already revealed that Karim Benzema will be the striker against Arrasate’s team. The Frenchman once again scored a last-minute winner against Sevilla, much like his winning goal in the previous game against Chelsea.
Vincius Jr will start on the left-wing. The Brazilian has proven himself to be an undisputed starter this season under the Italian manager.
The final player in the lineup will be Rodrygo. The youngster earns his spot purely through merit accumulated in recent games. Against Chelsea, he scored the all-important equaliser, and the first of three goals vs Julien Loptegui’s side on the weekend.
Having a player of Luka Modric’s quality on the bench is the king of luxuries that a manager can have. While Ancelotti will look to minimise the Croatian’s involvement in tomorrow’s game, it goes without saying that the veteran can be valuable off the bench.
Marco Asensio could come on in the second half, especially if Los Blancos find themselves trailing. He has not scored since early March, and will push to prove his worth.
Nacho Fernandez could come on for the final ten minutes to relieve literally any of the back-four of their duties. The same goes for Rafa Marin, who has been called up from Real Madrid Castilla, but not given any minutes yet.
Finally, given the importance of the City game in midweek, it would not be farfetched to see Dani Ceballos to get some minutes in place of Kroos, who needs to be at his best.
Three talking points from Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin
Real Madrid kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign on Wednesday night with a narrow 1-0 win over Union Berlin.
The victory was deserved from the point of view of domination of play. Real Madrid were the only team attacking for large parts of the night and created chances to no end.
Yet, one must tip the hat to the visitors’ resilient defence. Playing the first UEFA Champions League clash in the club’s history is difficult enough, let alone at the Santiago Bernabeu. Union Berlin did so and with some style.
Until the 93rd minute, a draw appeared to be the most probable result. The visitors refused to cave into Real Madrid’s relentless attacks and poured their hearts out on the field.
In the end, however, Carlo Ancelotti’s men did what they do best. A last-minute winner from Jude Bellingham gave the hosts all three points.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin.
The power of Real Madrid
Real Madrid are one of the few teams in the world that can never be written off. Such is the ability of the team, more so under Carlo Ancelotti, that they can pull off a win even after a howler.
Their unfair advantage, in part, owes itself to the ridiculous individual quality they possess on the field. Any player is capable of turning the game around with a moment of magic.
Yet, the most important factor that works in their favour is the mental resilience in the squad. Real Madrid never believe it is over until it really is, and Wednesday night’s game provided further reassurance as to why they are the mentality monsters.
For 90 minutes, the visitors frustrated Real Madrid to the limit. They stuck to their defensive lines with discipline and did not give Los Blancos much to work with.
Yet, Real Madrid’s perseverance was visible through the ordeal. The intensity of their attacks amplified with every passing minute and showed no signs of tapering down.
Poetically, they found the winning goal in the final minute of added time when all doors seemed closed, with Jude Bellingham being the hero yet again.
Forwards need to step up
The men in white had 75% of the possession on Wednesday night at Santiago Bernabeu and kept making the required penetrative attacks.
In 90 minutes, the hosts racked up an xG tally of 3.80. Yet, shockingly, they were goalless even in the penultimate minute of the game.
Real Madrid took 32 shots against Union Berlin as opposed to the opposition’s four. Seven shots were on target while 10 were blocked.
In terms of big chances, the me in white churned up five in the 90 minutes of which they missed four. They also struck the woodwork twice last night.
The team’s struggles in the final third place the spotlight on Rodrygo Goes and Joselu, who were the team’s two forwards at Santiago Bernabeu. Both players suffered disappointing nights in front of goal and just could not catch a break from their poor luck.
The Spaniard had three shots on target, five off it, and three attempts blocked against Union Berlin. All of it, however, was in vain.
The Brazilian was not much better with three shots and one blocked chance. Nevertheless, their poor results were not for a lack of trying if that is any silver lining.
Far from convincing
Real Madrid’s mentality and fortitude to push for a win is indeed a reason to be optimistic. However, that does not hide the fact that the men in white struggled and toiled on to no end.
The Champions League has no minnows, but one would expect Real Madrid to show their dominance at some point in the game and close the deal. However, that spell of play never arrived.
Los Blancos may be on a six-game winning streak so far this season, but there is reason to believe that a factor of luck has been essential for most of their scalps.
All eyes will thus be on Ancelotti now. The manager has a world-class roster at his disposal, and it will now be up to him to enhance Real Madrid’s performance in the final third. After all, putting away chances is as important as creating them.