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.
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.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Granada | La Liga
Napoli fought tooth and nail for all three points against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this week. They took the early lead in the first half, then fought back to find an equaliser after Real Madrid put two past them.
In the end, however, they were outdone by the hosts’ resilience and never-say-die attitude. The result thus registered Real Madrid’s fourth win on the trot and twelfth game without a defeat.
The men in white must now look ahead to their next La Liga game scheduled to kick off in just over 24 hours. Faced against Granada in a critical matchday, the aim will be to take all three points and thus maintain a healthy position in the standings.
Ancelotti announced some key recoveries in his pre-match press conference and also confirmed that Jude Bellingham would be fit to participate on the evening. Yet, he is concurrently in a difficult moment in terms of squad fitness.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Granada vs Real Madrid.
A clash of two poles
While Ancelotti’s Real Madrid sit lavishly on the top of La Liga’s standings, their opponents for Saturday afternoon have quite a contrasting fate. Granada sit on the other end of the league table and find themselves in a desolate situation 14 match days into the season.
Granada are currently 19th in La Liga with just one win in 14 games, and have changed managers, with Alexander Medina replacing Paco Lopez. They have lost a staggering nine games and walked away with one point on four occasions.
Granada have only scored 19 goals all season while conceding on 33 occasions. Comparing the numbers to Real Madrid’s 31 goals scored and nine goals conceded speaks volumes about the form of both teams heading into tomorrow’s clash.
The visitors’ last win in La Liga came back in August, and it is safe to say that a victory vs Real Madrid will do them a world of good. They will be the underdogs at the Bernabeu, but nothing is impossible considering that they drew with Barcelona not so long ago.
Saturday’s clash will thus be interesting, to say the least. With the injury-inflicted league leaders taking on a relegation-threatened side, the script cannot be predicted.
The rising phenomenon
Real Madrid’s injury crisis has not been easy on the manager. Ancelotti has been forced to rework his dynamics time and time again with a new player falling prey to the endless pit in every game.
The Italian is now in a situation where he has only four players left in the middle of the park. Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, and Dani Ceballos all started Real Madrid’s last game but it was young Nico Paz who stole the headlines.
The youngster has risen to prominence in Los Blancos’ latest injury emergency and his prominence has only increased over the past weeks. In the team’s latest outing against Napoli, he was on the field for close to half an hour and scored a crucial goal in the 84th minute.
With a tight schedule ahead and limited resources at his disposal, Ancelotti must look to rotate his men in midfield. Paz, on that front, is the Italian gaffer’s best choice and must look to make the most of his minutes tomorrow.
The golden chance
The biggest talking point from La Liga so far has been Girona’s stunning run at the beginning of the season. The Catalan side surprised everyone with win after win and stole the headlines by retaining the sole lead in the league until match day 13.
After six straight wins, Athletic Club broke Girona’s streak last weekend with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Estadi Montilivi. Having dropped two points, they are now level with Real Madrid in the standings with 35 points in 14 games.
It will thus be Ancelotti’s objective to take all three points against Granada and make a strong push towards taking the lead over Girona. After all, the co-leaders face a difficult opponent in Valencia and could well drop points.
Moreover, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are set to face off later this weekend. One, or both of the Spanish giants will drop points on the night, thus giving Real Madrid further impetus to gun for all three points tomorrow.
Considering the team’s good run of form in recent games, the dressing room will be confident about securing the much-needed result.