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Kroos, Tchouameni start in a 4-4-2: How Real Madrid could line up against UD Almeria

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Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images

After the disappointment of being dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid will shift their focus back to La Liga as they get set to take on UD Almeria on Sunday.

Real Madrid go into the game as overwhelming favourites, considering that Almeria are currently seated at the bottom of the table, with zero wins and six draws from their 20 matches thus far.

However, Gaizka Garitano’s men did manage to hold league leaders Girona to a goalless draw last weekend, and must not be taken lightly by the Merengues who will be eager to bag all three points and move to the top of the standings.

Real Madrid have welcomed back Lucas Vazquez from injury, meaning they now have only three players unavailable – Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao, and David Alaba, all of whom are out with ACL injuries.

With rotations expected to an extent, here’s how Real Madrid could line up against Almeria tomorrow at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Starters

The biggest mystery as far as Real Madrid’s starting XI is concerned, is the goalkeeping spot. Ancelotti has been freely rotating between Andriy Lunin and Kepa Arrizabalaga from game to game, and both players made costly mistakes in the last two games vs Atletico Madrid.

Previous reports have suggested that Lunin will be the first-choice for league matches and should likely start against Almeria.

The defence could see a change, with Fran Garcia getting a look-in at left-back with Ferland Mendy rested. Dani Carvajal, Antonio Rudiger, and Nacho Fernandez should retain their places in the lineup.

The midfield department is likely to see a couple of alterations at least. Toni Kroos is tipped to be reinstated to the lineup after being benched against Atletico. He would likely come in at the expense of fellow veteran Luka Modric.

Aurelien Tchouameni, who has been criticised for his error vs Atletico, could also get a start at the base of the midfield, with Eduardo Camavinga dropping out.

A rare start for Ceballos? (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

It might also be a good opportunity for Ancelotti to give some rest to Federico Valverde, who has been playing relentlessly. Dani Ceballos, in that case, could be in line for a rare starting berth for Real Madrid.

Jude Bellingham gave it his all against Atletico Madrid even though he was unable to get on the scoresheet. The Merengues’ leading goalscorer is expected to retain his spot in the lineup, playing at the tip of the four-man diamond midfield setup.

Moving up ahead, Brahim Diaz deserves a start after his recent run of form and it could come at the expense of Rodrygo, who could do with a breather. Vinicius Jr. is expected to partner the Spaniard in attack.

Substitutes

Rodrygo will most certainly feature off the bench if he is not starting against Almeria tomorrow. Meanwhile, Joselu, who scored against Atletico, is certain to get minutes again from the bench.

Arda Guler is being eased into the thick of things at Real Madrid slowly and tomorrow’s game would be the perfect opportunity to feed him some minutes as well. Luka Modric and Fede Valverde could also see some action.

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MU Shorts

Three Real Madrid players that are likely to get cut off by Carlo Ancelotti

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Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid are expected to undergo a significant overhaul this summer, with major new signings and notable departures anticipated to materialize.

Known for continually raising the bar season after season, Real Madrid could make some cuts in the roster to create space for new blood, with stars like Kylian Mbappe and Endrick set to arrive and other players also being targeted.

With merely one game left of the season and the summer transfer window looming large, here are three players facing the highest possibility of getting axed by coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Joselu

Will Joselu continue at Real Madrid? (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Joselu’s contributions this season have defied expectations. Despite minimally being availed in the starting XI, the seasoned Spaniard has 17 goals in addition to three assists throughout all competitions.

His performance against Bayern Munich particularly took the cake, as he scored two late goals to confirm Real Madrid’s qualification to the Champions League final.

However, it goes without saying, that Joselu remains far from a nailed-on starter due to the quality Los Blancos possess in their front line. And that quality is expected to soar even more from next season, with Kylian Mbappe and Endrick expected to join.

Retaining a player who will face a tremendous amount of competition from stars much younger than him increases the likelihood of hitting the exit door this summer.

Dani Ceballos

Ceballos could be on his way out. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Although Ceballos was seen making a name for himself last season, his importance under Ancelotti has waned considerably this season.

Indeed, the Spaniard has frequently found himself at the bottom of Real Madrid’s midfield hierarchy due to his inability to make a significant impression with his performances, while injuries have not helped his cause either.

Ceballos might be open to rejoining Real Betis, whom he has always referred to as the “club of his dreams.”

Reports have mentioned that he also has interest from Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid are open to exploring a move for the out-of-favour midfielder this summer.

Fran Garcia

Fran Garcia could leave only a year after returning. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images)

Fran Garcia was ranked higher than Ferland Mendy in Real Madrid’s starting lineup at the start of the season. But the Spaniard’s defensive efforts were tainted by some errors, which slowly eroded the coaching staff’s faith in him.

On the other hand, Mendy has been a beacon of consistency in the left-back position ever since he recovered from his injury issues and found his form.

In fact, the defensive left-back has been producing consistent performances ever since he made his way back into the team in the Spanish Super Cup earlier this year.

As such, Fran Garcia has thus witnessed a sharp decline in playing time and now hardly appears to be an integral part of the team.

With his contract expiring in 2027, Real Madrid could cash out on him this summer and create room for a big full-back signing, namely Alphonso Davies, while the possibility of re-signing Miguel Gutierrez is also being looked into.

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