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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 Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin



Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign on Wednesday night with a narrow 1-0 win over Union Berlin.

The victory was deserved from the point of view of domination of play. Real Madrid were the only team attacking for large parts of the night and created chances to no end.

Yet, one must tip the hat to the visitors’ resilient defence. Playing the first UEFA Champions League clash in the club’s history is difficult enough, let alone at the Santiago Bernabeu. Union Berlin did so and with some style.

Until the 93rd minute, a draw appeared to be the most probable result. The visitors refused to cave into Real Madrid’s relentless attacks and poured their hearts out on the field.

In the end, however, Carlo Ancelotti’s men did what they do best. A last-minute winner from Jude Bellingham gave the hosts all three points.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin.

The power of Real Madrid

Real Madrid are one of the few teams in the world that can never be written off. Such is the ability of the team, more so under Carlo Ancelotti, that they can pull off a win even after a howler.

Their unfair advantage, in part, owes itself to the ridiculous individual quality they possess on the field. Any player is capable of turning the game around with a moment of magic.

Yet, the most important factor that works in their favour is the mental resilience in the squad. Real Madrid never believe it is over until it really is, and Wednesday night’s game provided further reassurance as to why they are the mentality monsters.

For 90 minutes, the visitors frustrated Real Madrid to the limit. They stuck to their defensive lines with discipline and did not give Los Blancos much to work with.

Yet, Real Madrid’s perseverance was visible through the ordeal. The intensity of their attacks amplified with every passing minute and showed no signs of tapering down.

Poetically, they found the winning goal in the final minute of added time when all doors seemed closed, with Jude Bellingham being the hero yet again.

Forwards need to step up

Rodrygo, Joselu need to step up. (Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)

The men in white had 75% of the possession on Wednesday night at Santiago Bernabeu and kept making the required penetrative attacks. 

In 90 minutes, the hosts racked up an xG tally of 3.80. Yet, shockingly, they were goalless even in the penultimate minute of the game.

Real Madrid took 32 shots against Union Berlin as opposed to the opposition’s four. Seven shots were on target while 10 were blocked. 

In terms of big chances, the me in white churned up five in the 90 minutes of which they missed four. They also struck the woodwork twice last night.

The team’s struggles in the final third place the spotlight on Rodrygo Goes and Joselu, who were the team’s two forwards at Santiago Bernabeu. Both players suffered disappointing nights in front of goal and just could not catch a break from their poor luck.

The Spaniard had three shots on target, five off it, and three attempts blocked against Union Berlin. All of it, however, was in vain. 

The Brazilian was not much better with three shots and one blocked chance. Nevertheless, their poor results were not for a lack of trying if that is any silver lining.

Far from convincing 

Real Madrid’s mentality and fortitude to push for a win is indeed a reason to be optimistic. However, that does not hide the fact that the men in white struggled and toiled on to no end.

The Champions League has no minnows, but one would expect Real Madrid to show their dominance at some point in the game and close the deal. However, that spell of play never arrived.

Los Blancos may be on a six-game winning streak so far this season, but there is reason to believe that a factor of luck has been essential for most of their scalps.

All eyes will thus be on Ancelotti now. The manager has a world-class roster at his disposal, and it will now be up to him to enhance Real Madrid’s performance in the final third. After all, putting away chances is as important as creating them.

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