Real Madrid News
Five changes Ancelotti could make to the starting lineup for Real Madrid vs Barcelona
Real Madrid host Barcelona on Sunday night in the first official Clasico of the season. After losing 4-0 at home last time around and coming second best in the preseason Clasico, the hosts will be out for blood today.
Ancelotti will look to put up his strongest lineup on the night, and there will undoubtedly be changes galore, starting with:
1. Luka Modric for Eden Hazard
Carlo Ancelotti deployed a heavily rotated lineup against Shakhtar Donetsk and used the opportunity to test his bench strength. Eden Hazard was part of the starting XI and played as an attacking midfielder on the night, poaching on the space behind Karim Benzema.
Yet, the Belgian was easily the least influential player on the field in the 1-1 draw, as he managed just 35 touches in his hour on the field. Luka Modric will certainly start against Barcelona come Sunday night, and will almost definitely replace Hazard as the third midfielder.
2. Eder Militao for Nacho
Nacho has been a valuable asset on the bench for the manager and once again proved his worth with a reliable and solid defensive show in the last game.
However, the biggest games call for the biggest difference-makers. Eder Militao has established himself as an irreplaceable part of Los Blancos’ defensive unit and will hope to cover for Courtois’ absence on the night.
3. David Alaba for Ferland Mendy
David Alaba’s seamless adaptation to Real Madrid’s dynamics meant that the team did not even feel the loss of Sergio Ramos last season. He scored a phenomenal goal on his Clasico debut and will look to do the same as his team seek revenge on Sunday.
However, with Antonio Rudiger available to start, the Austrian could well play at left back in place of Ferland Mendy, hoping to keep one of Raphinha or Ousmane Dembele in check.
4. Daniel Carvajal for Lucas Vazquez
Experience is invaluable, more so on a Clasico night. Lucas Vazquez has barely put a foot wrong in his Real Madrid career as a right-back, but his compatriot’s experience at the highest level could well see him gifted the starting position against Barcelona.
5. Vinicius Jr for Rodrygo
Carlo Ancelotti suggested that both Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo Goes could start against Xavi’s men. Yet, it seems inevitable that Federico Valverde is given the start on the right wing, meaning one of the Brazilian would start on the bench.
In such a situation, it would be Vinicius who gets the crucial start in place of Rodrygo. Nevertheless, the latter can be assured of minutes off the bench.
Real Madrid News
Real Madrid midfielder trained away from the group last week, but has no injury – report
With the international break underway, several Real Madrid players have been called up for national team assignments. The stars who have not travelled for international duty have continued to work at the club’s Valdebebas training facility to prepare for the restart.
Toni Kroos is one such player who has remained in Madrid, having retired from international football back in 2021.
However, there had been concerns growing around the 33-year-old’s physical condition as he regularly did indoor work last week and was not spotted in group training with his teammates.
Now, Sergio Quirante has come up with an update on Kroos’ situation, stating that even though the midfielder largely did individual work inside the facilities over the last week, he is fine and has no injuries.
Taking advantage of the international break, the former Bayern Munich superstar is understood to have gone through an individual program to prepare for the final, decisive stretch of the 2022/23 season.
Kroos not being injured comes as a big positive for Real Madrid, ahead of important games against Real Valladolid and Barcelona within the first five days of April.
The rest of the Real Madrid midfield contingent – Luka Modric, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni, Federico Valverde, and Dani Ceballos – are all away on international duties and could return with some fatigue from the travel.
So, it is important that Kroos is fully fit and ready to go as Real Madrid look to cut down the gap to the top of the table in La Liga and also make it to the finals of the Copa del Rey by overturning a first-leg deficit against Barcelona in the semi-finals.
Kroos has played 37 matches this season, chipping in with two goals and five assists in the process. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, it is still unclear whether he will renew or hang up his boots.