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Hazard, Tchouameni start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against Cacereno

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will look to kickstart 2023 with a resounding victory when they lock horns with RFEF Segunda Division side CP Cacereno in the Copa del Rey Round of 32.

Having restarted their season after the World Cup with a win against Real Valladolid, Carlo Ancelotti’s side will be gunning to build momentum ahead of a busy couple of months.

On top of that, Real Madrid will also be motivated to end their drought in Copa del Rey, having last won the competition in 2014. While it is certainly an important game for the club, Ancelotti will look to rest and rotate his key players, especially with a flurry of matches coming up.

Ahead of the Copa del Rey encounter on Tuesday, Madrid Universal takes a look at how Los Blancos could take the field against Cacereno.

Starters

With Thibaut Courtois sidelined with a minor niggle, Andriy Lunin becomes the automatic selection in goal for Real Madrid. In front of him, there are expected to be wholesale changes in the defensive line.

Like Courtois, Dani Carvajal is also ruled out, paving the way for Lucas Vazquez to get the nod at right-back. Reports today suggested that the manager tried Alvaro Odriozola at left-back and could give him a start, benching Ferland Mendy in the process. It will be the Spaniard’s first official appearance of the season.

Ancelotti has already confirmed that David Alaba will be rested for the game. And with Antonio Rudiger having played in the last game, he too is unlikely to be involved. This should see Eder Militao and Nacho Fernandez start as the centre-backs.

Like Alaba, both Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are also set to be rested, opening the doors for World Cup finalists Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni to start in the centre of the park on Tuesday night.

Tchouameni, Camavinga in line to start (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Federico Valverde could also be preserved by the manager as a potential option in attack for later. So, Dani Ceballos is expected to keep hold of his spot in the three-man midfield unit for Real Madrid.

Finally, moving to the attacking unit, Ancelotti had already revealed that Eden Hazard will start in the cup tie. The Belgian should get the nod on the left in place of Vinicius Jr, who will be rested.

Rodrygo Goes should replace club captain Karim Benzema, who will also be given a break, in the centre-forward role. Marco Asensio should continue on the right as he looks to make an impression on the staff and earn a new contract.

Hazard · Rodrygo · Asensio
Camavinga · Tchouameni · Ceballos
Odriozola · Nacho · Militao · Vazquez
Lunin

Substitutes

Federico Valverde is likely to come on at some point in the game, either as a relief in midfield or an additional attacking option should things go wrong. Ferland Mendy could be called upon if the Odriozola experiment at left-back does not go according to plans.

Sergio Arribas, who has been slaying it for Castilla, should get some minutes on the pitch on Tuesday as well.

Another potential academy prospect who could get a look-in would be Nico Paz. Several Real Madrid officials reportedly believe that he is ready for the first team and Ancelotti could test that theory against Cacereno.

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No better time than now – Ancelotti should start 19-year-old Real Madrid wonderkid vs Mallorca

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

With the amount of pressure always on them to win, it would not be wrong to say that Real Madrid have no easy fixtures on their calendar.

And over the next week, they face a daunting schedule that involves three games – one each against the Copa del Rey finalists of this season, the reigning champions of England and Europe, and the current La Liga title holders.

Of the three, tomorrow’s meeting against Mallorca, the Copa del Rey runners-up, even though not straightforward, is the easiest.

So, rotations are expected to be made, keeping in mind the upcoming games against Manchester City and FC Barcelona.

A case for Arda Guler to start

With changes likely to be made, there is no better time for Carlo Ancelotti to hand teenage sensation Arda Guler a start for Real Madrid against Mallorca.

Guler, 19, arrived at the Spanish capital club last summer from Fenerbahce amidst a lot of fanfare. But three back-to-back injuries derailed what could have been a dream debut campaign.

Having only recovered in January this year, Guler would have hoped to get going and racking up minutes, but it has not been that way for him.

Since returning from injury, Guler has featured in only seven matches across all competitions for Real Madrid, racking up a total of 98 minutes.

There have been occasions when the youngster has let the frustration get the better of him, but there is simply no denying the talent and quality he possesses.

In his five La Liga appearances, which total up to 31 minutes, Guler has scored a peach of a goal against Celta Vigo.

The Turkish international almost followed that up with a FIFA Puskas Award contender against Osasuna when his shot from the halfway mark hit the crossbar.

Time to unleash Guler? (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Fit and fresh

One of Ancelotti’s main argument for not playing Guler enough has been that the youngster needs to reach full fitness after the lengthy layoffs in the first half of the season.

And Guler has worked hard to address that, with his recent physical transformation evidence of the efforts he has put in to get into great shape physically.

Furthermore, having not played either of Real Madrid’s last two matches after the international break, he will be fresher than those who were part of the team against Manchester City this week.

Jude Bellingham looked scratchy and tired against the Cityzens, while Rodrygo is recovering from a knock and did not train today.

Speaking about Guler after the win against Celta, Ancelotti had said: “He played very little, just a few minutes, but I was convinced that he could do something.

“He is showing all his quality. He will have a future here. Nobody thinks he has no future here. He is a great talent.”

“He has a great talent that he has shown today. In the future, I’m not saying tomorrow, he’s going to get more minutes,” he added.

Considering all the factors, Saturday’s match against Mallorca might be the ideal time for Ancelotti to live up to his words and hand Guler his first La Liga start.

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