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How Real Madrid could line up against Atletico Madrid

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Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Under different circumstances, Sunday’s clash between the two Madrid based giants would be a decisive one for the title race. Year after year, the Madrid derby lives up to its billing, producing nail-biting action until the very last minute.

Yet, this season the hype around the game is subdued. Carlo Ancelotti’s side have already been crowned the champions of Spain, and Atletico Madrid will only play for a place in the Champions League.

Needless to say, a win at the Wanda Metropolitano is more of a necessity for Diego Simeone’s side than it is for Los Blancos.

Real Madrid have their eyes set on the Champions League final now. The manager is said to have decided against fielding his big stars against Atletico Madrid, and it will be interesting to see which fringe players get the opportunity on the night.

Starting XI

Thibaut Courtois has been one of the team’s standout players this season. The Belgian international made eight saves against Manchester City earlier this week including four from inside the box, to take his side through to the final of the UCL.

He is expected to be rested after a tireless spell, though, with Andriy Lunin set to replace him.

David Alaba missed Real Madrid’s semifinal midweek and is not expected to start against Atletico Madrid either. Nacho Fernandez put up a resilient display against Pep Guardiola’s side, and retains his place.

The revamped defensive line will also see Jesus Vallejo get a rare start on the night as Eder Militao receives a well-deserved break. The 25-year-old has only played 100 minutes in the league this season and will look to turn his situation around with a positive display.

The rotations continue even as the focus shifts to the right-back position. Daniel Carvajal was instrumental in Real Madrid’s aggregate equaliser against City, and will start from the bench on Sunday. In his place, Lucas Vazquez will receive the manager’s nod.

At left-back, Marcelo is expected to start on the night. The Brazilian is likely in his final season with the team, and will likely get what will be one of his final starts in the white colours of Madrid.

The trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos, and Luka Modric have carried Ancelotti’s side through thick and thin this season. Recognising this, the manager will try to give them a break and use the chance to test the young midfielders in the team.

Eduardo Camavinga had an instrumental role to play in all three Real Madrid goals against Manchester City. As the Frenchman grows from strength to strength, he will receive a start at the Wanda Metropolitano to continue his astronomical rise.

A special talent. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

With Camavinga taking over duties as the holding midfielder, Federico Valverde will be deployed in a more attacking role, while Toni Kroos starts since Dani Ceballos is injured.

Now many changes are expected in the final third, especially given the imperious form of the forward department. However, there is a chance for Vinicius Jr to be rested against Simeone’s side.

Marco Asensio is best placed to replace the Brazilian winger on Sunday night and will start on the right-wing. The Spanish international has ten goals in 29 La Liga games this year. While he has had his special nights, his consistency has been a real issue.

We expect Karim Benzema to start as the centre-forward on the night. Though he has been amongst Real Madrid’s most extensively used players this year, the lack of a realistic backup option in such a big game forces the manager to field him in every game.

The final player in the lineup will be Rodrygo. When the world lost hope and wrote Real Madrid off against City, the teenager stepped up.

The Brazilian scored twice in additional time to secure a tie on aggregate before Benzema scored the winner. With his stocks soaring high, he will certainly get a start.

Substitutes

With most of the regular starters on the bench, Ancelotti will not be lost for options to bring on. Should they find themselves trailing, we can expect Vinicius to come on to add more depth to the frontline.

As much as he needs and deserves rest, Modric should come in for some game time, probably in place of Kroos or Valverde.

With Gareth Bale injured, Luka Jovic has options to come on and replace Benzema as the striker. The same goes for Mariano Diaz, who put on an underwhelming display against Espanyol.

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Features

Real Madrid World Cup Spotlight: Vinicius, Rodrygo, Militao advance to the Round of 16

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Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

The second round of group-stage fixtures in Qatar came to a close on Monday in what was a day of very high-quality football. The first two games alone accounted for 11 goals in what was the highest tally in a day in this edition.

The first game saw Serbia and Cameroon face off in an epic clash that saw no end of twists and turns. The game ended 3-3 with the teams sharing the points.

The next game saw South Korea go 2-0 down quickly against Ghana before coming back in the second half. However, the African side scored once again on demand to steer themselves to a win.

Brazil needed a late winner from Casemiro to break the deadlock against Switzerland in the third game and secured their spot in the Round of 16.

The last game between Portugal and Uruguay was expected to be a match of equals. That perception quickly changed when the Europeans produced a dominant performance and killed off the game with two goals.

Madrid Universal brings you an overview of the performances of Real Madrid players on Monday.

Vinicius Jr (Brazil vs Switzerland)

Over the past few years, Vinicius Jr has carved out a reputation for being a thorn in defenders’ feet, be it with his world-class dribbling or his antics. As one of the best young wingers in business, he stands out in chance creation even when faced against the best in the business.

However, it appeared like Silvan Widmer had Vinicius in his pockets for large parts of the game. The two created a fabulous battle down Brazil’s left-wing but it was often the Real Madrid player who came second best.

The youngster scored a goal in the 66th minute with a perfectly placed shot after beating his man. However, it was ruled out for an offside intervention after the VAR review.

Apart from sporadic moments of magic, Vinicius did not offer much. He had just one shot on target, completed just one of his five attempted dribbles and missed one big chance. Moreover, he did not complete a single cross accurately and lost more than 50% of his duels. But he was involved in the buildup to the goal.

Eder Militao (Brazil vs Switzerland)

After spending 90 minutes on the bench against Serbia, Militao received his first World Cup start on Monday night. However, the manager deployed him as the right-back as opposed to his usual position in central defence.

Despite playing in a foreign position, the Brazilian was convincing in defence and stopped the likes of Ruben Vargas and Ricardo Rodriguez.

Understandably, Militao did not look to burst into the final third and create chances like a traditional full-back but was still heavily linked in the build-up play. He completed 87% of his attempted passes, five out of eight long balls and even provided a key pass.

Rodrygo Goes (Brazil vs Switzerland)

Rodrygo impressed after coming on from the bench (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images)

After Brazil’s underwhelming first half, the manager turned to Rodrygo at the start of the second period. The youngster came on for Lucas Paqueta at halftime in an attempt to ramp up Selecao’s threat in the final third and the decision paid off.

It was the young sensation who assisted Casemiro’s goal in the 83rd minute. Receiving the ball from Vinicius, Rodrygo just flicked the ball away from defenders and into the feet of Casemiro to set up an ideal half-volley.

Apart from his assist, the Real Madrid man came painfully close to scoring in the 94th minute only to be denied by Manuel Akanji. He had one shot on target, one blocked, and a key pass.

Federico Valverde (Uruguay vs Portugal)

Uruguay have perhaps been the most disappointing team in the World Cup this year. The squad is filled with quality players from Rodrigo Bentancur and Darwin Nunez to Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde and Diego Godin.

The South Americans once again dished out an average game against Portugal, but it was Valverde who seemed the most inspiring in the Uruguayan team.

The in-form midfielder did not pose much threat to the goal on the night but worked like a machine off the ball. He recorded three interceptions, and two tackles, and won two tackles against Fernando Santos’ side in addition to a key pass and a big chance created. 

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