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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 3-1 Atletico Madrid: Player Ratings



Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

A scintillating Madrid derby saw Real Madrid leap past Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid by a scoreline of 3-1 to book a place in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey. As one-sided as the scoreline looks, the game was far from that.

Atletico Madrid took the early lead through Alvaro Morata in the first half and held onto their lead for close to an hour. However, Rodrygo had other plans and equalised for the hosts with a stunning solo strike to force extra time.

Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr then scored in the first and second periods of extra time to give Real Madrid the win. Notably, Los Rojiblancos were down to ten men by that point, with Stefan Savic having been sent off.

Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings for both teams at the Madrid derby.

Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois: 8.5

Absolutely gargantuan. Made a whopping five saves to keep his side in the game throughout, including four from inside the box.

Nacho Fernandez: 7.5

Playing as a right-back, Nacho did a great job at controlling Reinildo and Antoine Griezmann.

Eder Militao: 8

Calm, cool, and composed. 13 recoveries, seven clearances, four headed clearances, one interception and six duels won in addition to a game-high 117 passes.

Antonio Rudiger: 7

Tight performance from the German, was part of Real Madrid’s resilient defence that prevented an Atleti equaliser late on.

Ferland Mendy: 4

One of the Merengues’ worst players in the first half, limited their width in the final third and did not involve in the buildup. Replaced before half-time after suffering an injury.

Luka Modric: 7.5

Played the full 120 minutes and returned to his imperial best after a mild slump in recent games. Had 136 touches, completed 94% of his passes. Led the team with 22 passes into the final third and assisted Rodrygo’s opener.

Eduardo Camavinga: 7

Solid yet again. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Did well as the pivot against Simeone’s men, and showed the world that he can compete with Aurelien Tchouameni for a spot as the holding midfielder.

Toni Kroos: 7

Reliable as ever in his 74 minutes on the field. Completed 97% of his passes, created two chances and had 11 passes into the final third. Defensively, he recorded six recoveries, a headed clearance, two clearances and won three duels.

Federico Valverde: 6

A relatively sub-par performance from the Uruguayan. Took five shots against Real Madrid, but only one hit the target. Looked slightly off from the get-go but did not make any glaring mistakes either.

Karim Benzema: 8

A lively presence in attack created three chances and took four shots on the night. Had his big moment in the first half of extra time when he found himself at the receiving end of Rodrygo’s ball across the goal. Faced with an open goal, the Frenchman gave his side the lead.

Vinicius Jr: 8.5

Phenomenal, as is the norm. Was a constant threat down the left flank, and created five chances including a big chance. Got the assist to his name on the night, though Rodrygo deservedly can claim to have been the one to spot Benzema’s good position.

Scored a solo golazo in the final minute of the game to make it 3-1 after he ran past the entire Atleti defence and beat Oblak with a low shot.


Dani Ceballos: 8.5

Kept up his good form in the derby, and found Vinicius for the final goal of the game. Sensational cameo with 120 touches despite not playing the first half.

Rodrygo: 9

Game-changer. (Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)

The youngster came on in the 70th minute for Valverde and got on the scoreboard just ten minutes later. Scored a world-class goal to level things up by running beyond four Atletico defenders and poking the ball past Oblak.

Was a lively presence throughout, and injected energy into Real Madrid’s forward line when they needed it the most. Assisted the second goal with great presence of mind.

Marco Asensio: 3

Discouraging cameo disappeared on the field after coming on.

Atletico Madrid

Jan Oblak: 6

Continued his poor run of form. Could have reacted better to both Rodrygo and Vinicius’ goals as he was easily beaten near the post.

Nahuel Molina: 7.5

The Argentine’s one-touch ball across the face of the goal after receiving Koke’s pass was the reason Los Rojiblancos could take the lead. Was massive in defence with six recoveries and three clearances. Not much he could do about the goals scored by Real.

Stefan Savic: 5

The veteran centre-back was taken to the cleaners by Rodrygo for Real Madrid’s equaliser but was solid for most of the remainder of the game. 

Made a headless decision to commit to a late poor tackle on Camavinga. As a result, he saw a second yellow and left his team a man down for extra time.

Mario Hermoso: 6.5

Average performance from the Spanish defender was left to fight a lone bate after Savic’s sending-off.

Reinildo: 5

One of the Rojiblancos’ most disappointing players against Real Madrid. Offered absolutely nothing in the final third and suffered defensively against Rodrygo in the second half.

Koke: 6.5

Was absolutely vital for Atletico’s opening goal as he found Molina with a very difficult lofted ball. However, a relatively average performance from the Spanish veteran apart from his moment of magic. Nothing flashy.

Rodrigo de Paul: 7

The World Cup winner played over 80 minutes and drove Atletico’s midfield. Created two chances and a big chance, and completed 90% of his attempted 71 passes. 

Thomas Lemar: 4.5

Barely visible in his 75 minutes on the field, no major contributions or extensive involvement in Atletico’s play.

Antoine Griezmann: 6.5

Knocked out. (Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)

Led the charge for Atletico in attack and put in a hard-working defensive performance to back it up. Yet, one would expect more impact from a player of his stature.

Angel Correa: 5

Was a shadow of his true self, and lost a game-high nine duels at Santiago Bernabeu. 

Alvaro Morata: 8

Helped Atletico Madrid take the lead against his former club with a simple finish into an open goal. Had just 12 passes in 63 minutes, and completed just six. Could not record a single shot on goal apart from the one he scored from.


Axel Witsel: 4.5

Came on at the hour mark for Morata as Diego Simeone looked to flip on the defensive switch. Created and missed a big chance each during his stay on the field but was horribly undone by Rodrygo for the Merengues’ equaliser. Involved in another mess-up in Real Madrid’s second as he failed to clear the ball.

Yannick Carrasco: 4

Just 22 touches and 14 passes in close to 45 minutes of action. 

Memphis Depay: 6

Had a good chance to equalise in the 109th minute but put forward a tame effort. A good cameo from the Dutchman from a creative perspective, nevertheless.

Saul Niguez: 6

Good defensive numbers in his cameo but could not give Simeone’s side any edge in the final third. 

Geoffrey Kondogbia: 6

Nothing flashy from the central midfielder completed 100% of his attempted dribbles.

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