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Ceballos, Nacho start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could lineup against Athletic Club



Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

Having taken one step in the right direction with their comeback win against Villarreal, Carlo Ancelotti must ensure that his men do not take two steps backwards when they lock horns with Athletic Club at San Mames.

The Galacticos are still reeling under an acute injury crisis with several regular starters ruled out. Aurelien Tchouameni, David Alaba, Lucas Vazquez and Daniel Carvajal remain unavailable for selection, but Luka Modric returns to the squad after being rested for the last game.

A tough schedule lies ahead for Los Blancos and only good form and chemistry can take them through unscathed. Many of Ancelotti’s decisions on Sunday, thus, will depend on what he saw against Villarreal as he looks to sharpen his side.

Madrid Universal brings you an overview of how the Italian manager could play his cards at San Mames when Real Madrid face off against Ernesto Valverde’s Athletic Club de Bilbao.


Thibaut Courtois has little to feel happy about this season. While he has been top-notch yet again personally, his defence has let him down time and again. The Belgian will continue to start when the men in white take on Athletic Club on Sunday night as he desperately hunts for positives to cling onto.

David Alaba’s unavailability in the squad leaves Ancelotti with no option but to start Antonio Rudiger and Eder Militao in central defence. Luckily for him, the duo are beginning to strike up a good partnership and will hope to keep a clean sheet on the night.

Ferland Mendy is set to start at left-back as he faces the fearsome prospect of locking horns with one of Nico Williams or Inaki Williams. The Spanish duo are two of the league’s most lethal players on their day and promise devastating pace and agility.

Both Lucas Vazquez and Dani Carvajal are unavailable for the game at San Mames, putting Ancelotti in a tough spot like in the previous game. Given that Vinicius Tobias is not in the squad, Nacho Fernandez seems to be the chosen one to play at right-back.

Dani Ceballos dished out a special cameo as a substitute against Villarreal. When the team stared at an uphill battle, he came up clutch with an assist and match-winning goal to take the team to the next round and could deservedly start against Athletic Club.

Eduardo Camavinga is also in contention to start again after a largely solid display vs Villarreal, but Ceballos continuity would not be surprising.

Ancelotti could opt to turn to his veterans again to complete the midfield. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will look to use their experience against the veteran double pivot of Dani Garcia and Mikel Vesga, who tormented Real Madrid in their last meeting.

Vinicius Jr was one of the biggest talking points ahead of the Villarreal clash. The Brazilian International was seemingly struggling for form after the World Cup but stepped up at La Ceramica to score Real Madrid’s first goal of the night. Still fresh from his revival, he will look to keep up his good rhythm.

Can Vini save Madrid’s season? (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Karim Benzema was abysmal when Real Madrid needed him the most against Villarreal. The Frenchman contributed very little over 90 minutes and had just one shot and zero dribbles on a night when his team were chasing a two-goal deficit. The Ballon d’Or winner will thus look to be the protagonist tomorrow and look to lace up his goalscoring boots.

The final place in attack sees heavy competition. Federico Valverde, Rodrygo Goes and Marco Asensio all make strong cases to start, but one would expect the latter to get the nod after his solid midweek cameo.


Despite being harsh on Eduardo Camavinga in terms of controlling his minutes and taking him off prematurely, Carlo Ancelotti maintains that the youngster is untouchable at the club. It is clear that the manager values his profile, and will surely give him minutes in the La Liga clash.

Federico Valverde suddenly finds himself in a bearish period after an incredible run of form that saw his stocks break the roof. He will come on in the second half to improve the tempo and inject firepower in the final third.

Rodrygo’s substitution has become a common ritual in Real Madrid games this season, and it is almost taken for granted that the Brazilian features in every game. He, too, will be called upon in the second period.

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Three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid



Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Real Valladolid was far from convincing. They may have been the more effective side, but the Merengues were far from being the better team against Andoni Iraola’s men.

Saturday brings with it the team’s penultimate game of the campaign as Real Madrid take on Sevilla. The Andalusian side have not been impressive in La Liga this season but have always been one to turn up against the big teams. Tomorrow’s game is expected to be no different.

Carlo Ancelotti is expected to make drastic changes ahead of kickoff, especially given the incomplete squad travelling for the game. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid.

1. Final game on the road

The 2022-23 season has flown by in the blink of an eye. It may have been a rocky campaign and could have ended with better results, but there is a feeling that the squad has a lot to take away from the season as it is.

From the highs of completing a special Copa del Rey comeback win over Barcelona to the lows of losing three successive Clasicos, the men in white have seen it all. As the season now approaches the curtain-closing phase, Carlo Ancelotti and his men will be eager for a strong finish.

Sunday night will see the Merengues‘ final away game of the season as they travel to Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan to take on Sevilla. The 2021-22 champions have not had the best of seasons on the road in La Liga this season and a statement finish would go a long way in boosting the morale.

Sevilla have been far from their best this campaign domestically. Though they are well placed to taste glory in the UEFA Europa League once again, they languish in tenth place on the league standings with just 13 wins in 36 games.

Los Blancos boast a fine record at Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and are unbeaten at the stadium in their last eight appearances. Their last defeat at the venue came back in 2018, and the objective tonight will be to extend the aforementioned streak.

2. Tchouameni’s point to prove

Point to prove. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

As much as Aurelien Tchouameni’s initial months at the club were called paradise, the Frenchman has not had life easy at Real Madrid in his first season.

The Frenchman initially stepped in as a more than able replacement for Casemiro in the middle of the park. His astute reading of the game and defensive awareness made him a monster in midfield and his position in the starting lineup appeared safe.

Tchouameni’s situation, however, took a steep turn after the FIFA World Cup. Coming back from a fatiguing World Cup and a minor niggle, the defensive midfielder no longer found his name on the starting lineup as he became second fiddle to Eduardo Camavinga.

The entry of Toni Kroos as an option for the pivot role further reduced the Frenchman’s involvement.

The youngster thus has a point to prove on Sunday night. He is expected to start at the Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and will look to orchestrate the team’s play from deep in midfield whilst holding the fortress simultaneously. After all, it could be his final chance to prove his worth ahead of the new season.

3. Only three forwards

Real Madrid’s squad list only names three forwards making the trip to Seville to take on Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side – Rodrygo Goes, Eden Hazard, and Alvaro Rodriguez.

The manager does have a fourth option in Federico Valverde and could look to mix and match his options on the night. However, Carlo Ancelotti maintained a low profile on the starting lineup ahead of Sunday’s clash, especially when asked about Eden Hazard’s chances of participating.

Given that it is the team’s penultimate game of the season, Ancelotti could well look to start all three pure forwards on the night. After all, each has their own special reason to participate.

For Hazard, the game against Sevilla could well be his final away game in a Real Madrid shirt. The Belgian is reluctant to leave the club at the moment, but everything could change in June if he begins to attract interest.

In Alvaro Rodriguez’s case, tomorrow’s game presents itself as an audition to seal a place in next season’s dynamics. The youngster has impressed whenever given the chance so far and will look to keep his high level going.

Rodrygo Goes, arguably, needs the game the least of the three candidates. Yet, with Ancelotti publicly asking him to take more prominence, he has a point to prove.

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