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Ex-Premier League manager questions Real Madrid being named the third-best team in Europe

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Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

At the recently conducted Ballon d’Or gala, Real Madrid had a successful day as Karim Benzema won the Golden Orb for the Best Player of the Year, while Thibaut Courtois was awarded the Yashin Trophy for the Best Goalkeeper of the Year.

However, in a strange decision, Real Madrid were voted the third-best team in Europe, behind Premier League duo Manchester City and Liverpool, even though Los Blancos won the La Liga title and the UEFA Champions League trophy.

It has not gone down entirely well with some sections and now, former Premier League manager, Claudio Ranieri has also questioned the decision. Speaking in an interview with MARCA, the Italian tactician said:

“This is very rare. Normally the one who has won the Champions League and La Liga will win. Real Madrid are Real Madrid and they deserve more than others. Many times with the prizes they do what they want.”

Ranieri, who won the Premier League with Leicester City, also insisted that Karim Benzema’s Ballon d’Or triumph was well-deserved, saying: “It is very fair that he wins the Ballon d’Or. He had a magnificent season. He is a great player who deserves everything.”

The Italian tactician also showered praise on his compatriot and Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti, as he said: “It’s normal for Ancelotti to beat my records. He’s a phenomenal coach, what he has achieved has been done by very few.

“He is a caring coach and creates a very pleasant atmosphere. All the players respect him a lot, those who play and those who don’t, and that means that he is truly a great person.”

Ranieri also delivered his verdict on the recent El Clasico which Real Madrid won 3-1 against Barcelona. The ex-Watford and Chelsea boss insisted that Los Blancos were deserved winners as they are a team that is ready, whereas the Blaugrana are undergoing a rebuild.

“Real Madrid is superior to a lot of teams and will be in contention to win La Liga and the Champions League,” Ranieri stated.

“Xavi is trying to build a great group of players and he must give encouragement and strength. And that is not easy. Real Madrid are a team that is already made and Barça are rebuilding everything,” he added.

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Matches

Camavinga, Tchouameni start in a 4-3-1-2: How Real Madrid could line up against Barcelona

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will be aiming to get a step closer to lifting the La Liga title when they face off against FC Barcelona later tonight at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid are currently seated atop the league table, eight points clear of Barça in second place. And another win tonight would stretch the lead to 11 points, all but guaranteeing their coronation as Spanish champions.

It will not be easy with Barcelona motivated after their defeat against PSG in the UEFA Champions League while fatigue could also be a factor after Los Blancos toiled it out for 120 minutes against Man City earlier this week.

Heading into the game, Real Madrid have one fitness concern as Ferland Mendy did not train on Saturday due to some overload in his left leg, although he was included in the squad list by Carlo Ancelotti.

Thibaut Courtois and David Alaba are the only injury-enforced absentees for the league leaders and here’s how Real Madrid could line up tonight against Xavi Hernandez’s side.

Starters

Fresh off his penalty shootout heroics against Manchester City, Andriy Lunin will guard Real Madrid’s goal again and hope to help his team to another crucial victory.

Antonio Rudiger has been in brilliant form this season and is a guaranteed starter at the heart of the Merengues’ defence. The German international should pair up with club captain Nacho Fernandez to stop Robert Lewandowski & co.

Even though there has been some chatter about Lucas Vazquez starting at right-back, Dani Carvajal is expected to get the nod as usual.

Mendy’s possible absence, however, could pave the way for Eduardo Camavinga to start at left-back for Real Madrid, with Ancelotti likely to trust the French midfielder in a makeshift role over Fran Garcia.

Camavinga could fill in at left-back. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Aurelien Tchouameni is back after missing the Manchester City game through suspension and will slot in as the defensive midfielder against Barcelona.

Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos will take up the two interior midfield positions for Real Madrid while Jude Bellingham will operate as the lone attacking midfielder.

However, it will not be a surprise to see Real Madrid transition into a 4-4-2 with Valverde and Bellingham moving out wide on the right and left flanks, respectively.

Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Jr. are the undisputed starters up top in attack, with the former likely to operate from the left after his recent success while the latter will play slightly more centrally.

Real Madrid Predicted Lineup: Lunin, Carvajal, Rudiger, Nacho, Camavinga, Tchouameni, Valverde, Kroos, Bellingham, Vinicius, Rodrygo.

Substitutes

Brahim Diaz and Luka Modric are players that Carlo Ancelotti counts on from the bench for every game and that will not change tonight against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Joselu is also an option that Ancelotti could turn to if he wished to change things up in the attacking unit.

Eder Militao could also get some minutes, depending on the game situation, as Ancelotti hopes to get the Brazilian into match-rhythm in time to face Bayern Munich.

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