Four ways Real Madrid can shape their attack vs PSG without Karim Benzema
The biggest clash of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 is undoubtedly the face-off between Real Madrid and PSG. Both sides lead their respective leagues and promise to put up a gargantuan performance to seek a place in the Quarterfinals.
Los Blancos have been dealt with a big injury blow ahead of the critical clash. Karim Benzema’s absence is the reason for the club’s recent dip in form. Though initially thought to be a minor problem, the player has taken longer than expected to recover.
Now, his place in the starting lineup against PSG is in doubt even though Benzema traveled with the team.
The most tempting option for Carlo Ancelotti will be to deploy Gareth Bale as the central striker with two wingers to complement him. Vinicius Jr has earned a permanent spot on the left-wing, but the right-wing is where the manager needs to make a decision.
The combination of Vinicius – Bale could be completed by either Marco Asensio or Valverde. The Vinicius-Bale-Asensio lineup seems to be the way to go, but the latter’s tendency to disconnect from the game can be a real worry. Yet, the Vinicius-Bale-Rodrygo lineup has its vices too as the latter struggles with his decision-making in the final third.
The third possibility would be to drop Bale and play Asensio as the central striker with the two Brazilian wingers, namely Vinicius and Rodrygo on either side. This formation will prove to be very dynamic, but seemingly lacks a finisher who can make runs.
The last option at Ancelotti’s hands is the trio of Vinicius – Hazard – Bale. In this case, it is the unclear form of the Belgian that proves to be a drawback.
It remains to be seen as to which trident the manager opts for on the night. The Parc des Princes will not be an easy venue to walk away with three points. Needless to say, the front three will have to be the X factor on the night.
Three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Real Valladolid was far from convincing. They may have been the more effective side, but the Merengues were far from being the better team against Andoni Iraola’s men.
Saturday brings with it the team’s penultimate game of the campaign as Real Madrid take on Sevilla. The Andalusian side have not been impressive in La Liga this season but have always been one to turn up against the big teams. Tomorrow’s game is expected to be no different.
Carlo Ancelotti is expected to make drastic changes ahead of kickoff, especially given the incomplete squad travelling for the game. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid.
1. Final game on the road
The 2022-23 season has flown by in the blink of an eye. It may have been a rocky campaign and could have ended with better results, but there is a feeling that the squad has a lot to take away from the season as it is.
From the highs of completing a special Copa del Rey comeback win over Barcelona to the lows of losing three successive Clasicos, the men in white have seen it all. As the season now approaches the curtain-closing phase, Carlo Ancelotti and his men will be eager for a strong finish.
Sunday night will see the Merengues‘ final away game of the season as they travel to Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan to take on Sevilla. The 2021-22 champions have not had the best of seasons on the road in La Liga this season and a statement finish would go a long way in boosting the morale.
Sevilla have been far from their best this campaign domestically. Though they are well placed to taste glory in the UEFA Europa League once again, they languish in tenth place on the league standings with just 13 wins in 36 games.
Los Blancos boast a fine record at Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and are unbeaten at the stadium in their last eight appearances. Their last defeat at the venue came back in 2018, and the objective tonight will be to extend the aforementioned streak.
2. Tchouameni’s point to prove
As much as Aurelien Tchouameni’s initial months at the club were called paradise, the Frenchman has not had life easy at Real Madrid in his first season.
The Frenchman initially stepped in as a more than able replacement for Casemiro in the middle of the park. His astute reading of the game and defensive awareness made him a monster in midfield and his position in the starting lineup appeared safe.
Tchouameni’s situation, however, took a steep turn after the FIFA World Cup. Coming back from a fatiguing World Cup and a minor niggle, the defensive midfielder no longer found his name on the starting lineup as he became second fiddle to Eduardo Camavinga.
The entry of Toni Kroos as an option for the pivot role further reduced the Frenchman’s involvement.
The youngster thus has a point to prove on Sunday night. He is expected to start at the Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and will look to orchestrate the team’s play from deep in midfield whilst holding the fortress simultaneously. After all, it could be his final chance to prove his worth ahead of the new season.
3. Only three forwards
Real Madrid’s squad list only names three forwards making the trip to Seville to take on Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side – Rodrygo Goes, Eden Hazard, and Alvaro Rodriguez.
The manager does have a fourth option in Federico Valverde and could look to mix and match his options on the night. However, Carlo Ancelotti maintained a low profile on the starting lineup ahead of Sunday’s clash, especially when asked about Eden Hazard’s chances of participating.
Given that it is the team’s penultimate game of the season, Ancelotti could well look to start all three pure forwards on the night. After all, each has their own special reason to participate.
For Hazard, the game against Sevilla could well be his final away game in a Real Madrid shirt. The Belgian is reluctant to leave the club at the moment, but everything could change in June if he begins to attract interest.
In Alvaro Rodriguez’s case, tomorrow’s game presents itself as an audition to seal a place in next season’s dynamics. The youngster has impressed whenever given the chance so far and will look to keep his high level going.
Rodrygo Goes, arguably, needs the game the least of the three candidates. Yet, with Ancelotti publicly asking him to take more prominence, he has a point to prove.