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Four changes in the 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against RB Leipzig

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Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid have made an exceptional start to the 2022/23 campaign. Los Blancos have a 100% record across all competitions so far, having won seven in seven in La Liga, UEFA Super Cup and Champions League combined.

And, after beating RCD Mallorca 4-1 at the weekend, Carlo Ancelotti & co. will be aiming to extend that run when they host RB Leipzig at the Santiago Bernabeu later tonight in a Group F encounter in the Champions League.

It will be Real Madrid’s biggest test of the season so far as they come up against a Leipzig side enjoying the new-manager bounce. After a poor start to the campaign, they have appointed Marco Rose as their new boss, who led them to a 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in his first match in charge.

Given the might of the German side’s attacking unit, things will not be easy for Real Madrid and they will have to fight hard to keep their winning run intact. Ahead of this much-anticipated encounter at the Bernabeu, Madrid Universal takes a look at how Los Merengues might line up.

Defence

There will be an enforced change made in defence from the game against Mallorca as Lucas Vazquez has been sidelined with an injury. First-choice right-back Dani Carvajal will reclaim his spot in the right-back position.

With Eder Militao still not fit, Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba ought to continue as the centre-backs for Real Madrid. The former has not made the steadiest of starts for the men in white and will need to step up against the threat of Timo Werner and Christopher Nkunku.

Ferland Mendy would be the obvious choice in the left-back position for Real Madrid, with Alaba being deployed in the centre-back role. The quartet will shield Thibaut Courtois in goal as he searches for his second clean sheet in the Champions League this season.

Midfield

Real Madrid’s new midfield general (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Given the plethora of options in midfield at Ancelotti’s disposal, wholesale changes are expected tonight. To begin with, Aurelien Tchouameni, who has already endeared himself to the fans and his new teammates, should start after being rested at the weekend.

The Frenchman will slot in as the No. 6 for the home team, with Toni Kroos likely to be given a breather after starting the last two matches. Fellow veteran midfielder Luka Modric should, however, return to the lineup after making a substitute appearance against Mallorca.

Dani Ceballos made a big impression in a rare start over the weekend. And while he is likely to get more minutes going forward, against Leipzig, teenage sensation Eduardo Camavinga is expected to get the nod as the third midfielder.

Attack

Eden Hazard started as a false nine in Karim Benzema’s absence against Mallorca but failed to stamp his authority on the game. Real Madrid looked much more menacing once Rodrygo Goes moved into a central role and the Brazilian should start as the No. 9 today ahead of Hazard.

Rodrygo moving in centrally vacates the right-wing spot, which could likely be occupied by Federico Valverde. Fresh from scoring a stunning goal, the Uruguayan will be high on confidence while his energy will come in handy against RB Leipzig’s attack-minded left-back, David Raum.

Vinicius Jr is the leading man for Real Madrid in Benzema’s absence and will continue to feature from the left flank.

Vinicius · Rodrygo · Valverde
Camavinga · Tchouameni · Modric
Mendy · Alaba · Rudiger · Carvajal
Courtois

Off the bench

While Hazard may drop out to the bench, he is very much likely to get some minutes in the latter stages of the contest. Marco Asensio could also be in line for some on-field action after his touchline antics over the weekend.

Nacho Fernandez is Ancelotti’s trusted veteran and could be called upon in case Real Madrid are looking to shut shop or if any of the starting defenders are having an off night. Kroos, too, might get on the field depending on the circumstances.

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Features

Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Osasuna

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

After a two-week hiatus from club football, Real Madrid return to action on Sunday night in a home game against Osasuna. The league leaders have been unstoppable so far this season, and the objective at the Bernabeu will be to keep their fine form going.

Jagoba Arrasate’s side have enjoyed a positive start to the season with four wins in six games so far. The Pamplona-based side sit sixth in the league standings ahead of the likes of Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.

Carlo Ancelotti will make several changes in his starting lineup on the night – some forced and some out of choice. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Los Blancos’ weekend clash.

1. Time to kick in the nitros

Real Madrid have been flawless this season and are the only club in the European top-flight to have not dropped a single point. While their start to the season has been nothing short of a fairytale, one wonders how long they can keep the magical streak going.

The month of October brings with it one of the most hectic schedules the club has seen in recent years. Over the next 30 days, Los Blancos play nine games across all competitions. In short, the equation boils down to a game every three days.

To come out on top in all nine games will require a superhuman effort from the Real Madrid players, but one knows well that the squad is capable of it. The team are in a strong headspace, and injecting the right amount of fuel at this point could propel their throttle and see them weather the storm.

A job well begun is half done, and Carlo Ancelotti will hope that his men can make a strong start to the month on Sunday night.

2. Coping without Modric

Godric. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

The FIFA International break has been cruel to clubs across the globe, with several key players returning injured and facing several weeks on the sidelines. The story for Real Madrid is no different.

Luka Modric played every minute of Croatia’s two friendlies in the last two weeks and even scored a goal in their 3-1 win over Austria. However, he suffered an injury to his hip and faces 8-10 days on the sidelines.

The veteran, at 37 years of age, has arguably been Real Madrid’s best player this season. In eight games, he has scored two goals and provided one assist for Los Blancos and continues to show the world why he is one of the best the game has seen.

Modric is expected to return for the Clasico in two weeks. However, one cannot help but wonder how Ancelotti compensates for such a big void.

It has been reported that the manager sees Dani Ceballos as the ideal man for the job. The 26-year-old impressed when given the start against Mallorca earlier this season, making four key passes and bagging one assist. Now, he could have his moment and a chance to prove his worth to the manager.

In Modric’s absence, Ceballos could start alongside Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos in the middle of the park. With Eduardo Camavinga quickly climbing up the pecking order, the 26-year-old must make the most of his chance on Sunday to secure a place in the coming games.

3. The return of the gladiator

After a slow start to the season, Karim Benzema bounced back with a brace against Espanyol on Matchday three. Just when it seemed like he had found his stride, however, he suffered a thigh injury and was ruled out for close to three weeks.

While the team found alternate sources of goals in his absence, it was clear that Los Blancos lacked a dominant presence in the box in recent weeks. With Benzema’s recovery close to complete, all eyes will be on him to see if he can find his feet again.

In his pre-match press conference, Ancelotti confirmed that the French international would start on Sunday though it is unlikely that he will play all 90 minutes. Nevertheless, this comes as a big relief to Real Madrid, given that they have no natural replacement for the centre-forward.

The captain will look to make a statement on his return on Sunday and will likely be deployed alongside Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.

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