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How Real Madrid could line up against Atletico Madrid



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.


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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Three talking points from Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid | La Liga



Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid fell to a 2-1 defeat against Barcelona on their first trip to Spotify Camp Nou after more than a year.

The Catalans had not won against the Merengues at home since 2018 ahead of the game but a clutch goal from Franck Kessie helped them turn around the record.

Vinicius Jr opened the scoring early in the game by forcing an error and own goal from Ronald Araujo. The hosts levelled the score in the 45th minute through Sergi Roberto, before the winner arrived in stoppage time.

The game was not without its share of controversy as Real Madrid had a goal disallowed for offside that Ancelotti felt was unfair. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from the fourth Clasico of the season.

1. Quality of full-backs

Real Madrid have etched their names into history as one of the most deadly counter-attacking teams in world football. Their pacey transitions and shifts of play have traditionally progressed through the wing with unreal speed to catch the opponent off-guard even in a momentary lapse in concentration.

Needless to say, the full-backs have always worked in tandem with the team’s wingers to make such speedy counters possible. The glaring problem at Real Madrid currently is that their full-backs do not provide half as much as they need to.

Los Blancos’ counterattack now seemingly consists of only Vinicius Jr on the left wing making a quick transition to find Karim Benzema. With just one outlet, it is difficult for the men in white to be effective.

The story at Spotify Camp Nou was very similar. Dani Carvajal started as the right-back and had a good showing defensively. Yet, he was virtually absent in the final third and left Real Madrid’s right-wing lifeless. In ninety minutes, he managed no crosses or long balls and had just one key pass.

The story at left-back was equally, if not more abysmal. Nacho Fernandez was the candidate deployed in the position and could also not manage a single cross, long ball or key pass on the night. He was eventually substituted for Ferland Mendy but the Frenchman could not do much either.

The difference in the quality of full-backs between Barcelona and Ancelotti’s side is gaping. The Catalans blazed through the wings on the night with Ronald Araujo and Alejandro Balde who constantly got forward in attack to stretch the men in white. In response, Real Madrid had nothing.

2. A dead right-wing and lack of intensity

Carvajal had a forgettable game (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

It is imperative for any top football team to have the resources to attack both wings, for it is the constant switching of play that triggers errors from the opposition. For a club like Real Madrid to not have such resources is criminal.

The game against Barcelona was completely predictable given that the Merengues’ right wing was nonexistent. Any attack, almost surely, had to come down Vinicius’ wing and this made Barcelona’s defensive work easier.

Dani Carvajal was barely involved in the final third against the Catalans. That, coupled with Federico Valverde’s atrocious showing as the right-winger removed one side of the field from Real Madrid’s game.

Valverde made just 27 passes in 76 minutes and failed to make a single cross on the night. Further, he recorded just one key pass and one accurate long ball in El Clasico.

When Marco Asensio came on for Los Blancos, the equation completely turned around. The winger came on as a direct replacement for Valverde and happened to score the disallowed goal that was millimetres from giving Real Madrid three points.

More importantly, the move for the aforementioned goal was completely down the right flank, a testament to the alarming situation.

3. Goodbye La Liga?

When the clock at Spotify Camp Nou struck 81 minutes, the race for La Liga seemed to be on. Real Madrid had just scored a possible winner and had cut short their deficit with Barcelona to just six points.

Ten minutes later, the scoreline read 2-1 in favour of the hosts. Their lead atop the league standings was suddenly twelve points with just 12 games to go.

History is witness that counting out Real Madrid does not fare well. However, it is difficult to surpass the supposition that the 12-point gap is too wide to bridge.

Los Blancos will continue to fight in the league, but Ancelotti will likely preserve his weapons for the UEFA Champions League where they face a bigger chance at glory.

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