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Ceballos, Rudiger start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against RCD Mallorca



Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid may have registered five wins out of five to start the season, including one in the Champions League, but their performances have been far from convincing.

They were almost beat by UD Almeria on opening day, and Real Betis could have taken a point or three against them on any other day.

To add to Carlo Ancelotti’s trouble, two key players in Eder Militao and Karim Benzema have picked up injuries that will rule them out at least for another week. Neither of the two is part of the squad list that will take on RCD Mallorca tomorrow.

That said, Los Blancos still have that ‘inevitable aura surrounding them. We saw it in the UEFA Champions League last season, and a few times in the opening five games of the campaign already.

They seem to find ways back into the game despite looking out and done. Tomorrow, we expect Ancelotti to rotate the personnel heavily, but the lionheart of Madrid will remain in place.


Thibaut Courtois picked up a minor knee injury earlier this week, confirmed Ancelotti during his pre-game press conference. However, he also assured the media that the Belgian would definitely start tomorrow.

The Italian gaffer also confirmed that they will not look to change the system despite Benzema’s absence, which, presumably, means that he will continue with a back-four.

Antonio Rudiger should replace Militao as the first screen ahead of Courtois. We expect David Alba to retain his spot in the heart of the defence, partnering the German giant.

Daniel Carvajal participated for the full 90 against Celtic, and therefore, is in line to be rested. Lucas Vazquez will likely take over his role as the right-back, with Odriozola still absent.

Nacho is one of the candidates to start tomorrow, especially at left-back, but it is likelier that Ancelotti sticks with Ferlan Mendy so as to not disrupt the chemistry too much.


The centre of the park will likely be handed a couple of switches as well. Aurelien Tchouameni is the only natural pivot present in the Real Madrid squad and should retain his spot as the anchor of the midfield trident.

He will be flanked by one midfield on either side. Ancelotti hinted at a possible start for Daniel Ceballos tomorrow, and in line with the same, we predict him to take up one of the available central midfield positions.

With one eye on the midweek clash against RB Leipzig, it is an almost unsaid protocol for big teams to rest veterans. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric ran the show against Celtic but could start from the bench tomorrow.

Consequently, the final available spot should go to Eduardo Camavinga. The Frenchman is yet to see a continuous run of minutes since his arrival in the Spanish capital, but tomorrow is a chance for him to win over the coaching staff.

Long overdue minutes for Camavinga. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)


With captain Karima Benzema out, Eden Hazard gets the nod to start in his place as the false 9. The Belgian looked sharp on Tuesday, scoring his first official goal for Madrid since January 2022.

Vinicius Jr has been playing regularly and needs to get some time on the bench, but that will likely not happen anytime soon. He will be the protagonist of the attack in Benzema’s absence tomorrow, starting as the left-winger.

The final place in the starting lineup should go to Rodrygo. The Brazilian has more than earned his place at this point, scoring and assisting one goal each in three appearances this season.

Vinicius · Hazard · Rodrygo
Ceballos · Tchouameni · Camavinga
Mendy · Alaba · Rudiger · Vazquez


Benzema’s injury gives Marco Asensio and Mariano Diaz chances to be included in the team more often. The duo have barely received game time this season, but are in line to come off the bench tomorrow.

Federico Valverde‘s energy will be key for Madrid, in any case, tomorrow, along with the calm of Toni Kroos. Tchouameni needs some long-overdue rest, and one of these two could come on to replace him.

Nacho is one of the leading candidates to be substituted on, likely replacing one of Mendy or Alaba, depending on what Madrid need in the game.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Charles

    September 10, 2022 at 6:45 pm

    I’d prefer to see the coach rest Thibaut Courtois and play the second choice, Lucas Vazques starts from the right back to rest Dani and Mendy plays to increase his match fitness, Tchoumeni starts as the DM alongside Camavinga and Ceballos, Alaba and Rudiger pairs at the CD,Valverde from the right and Rodrigo from the left with Hazard in the middle while Vinicius is rested to avoid injury. Modric and Kroos rest for the entire game and Asencio, Diaz,and Nacho could be paraded as sure substitute at 60mins of play. I believe it will be a spectacular and sensational game.

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Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place



Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.

The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.

Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.

1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?

Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.

An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.

The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.

Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.

In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.

It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.

2. A day of farewells

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.

Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.

With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.

The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.

Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.

3. A tight race for second place

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.

Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.

Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.

With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.

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