Real Madrid will look to secure progression to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League when they take on Chelsea in the quarter-final second leg tonight at Stamford Bridge.
Real Madrid, current holders of the Champions League trophy, secured a 2-0 win over Chelsea in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu last week.
And the aim will be for the Merengues to get the job done in London in a professional manner without letting any complacency creep in, even as Chelsea find themselves in a never-ending abyss of problems on the pitch.
Ahead of the game, Real Madrid have welcomed key duo Toni Kroos and Vinicius Jr back into the fold after the pair missed the La Liga clash against Cadiz due to minor niggles. Ferland Mendy remains the only first-team player out with an injury.
Madrid Universal takes a look at how Carlo Ancelotti could set his team up against Frank Lampard’s side tonight at Stamford Bridge.
It goes without saying that Carlo Ancelotti will ring in the changes after rotating heavily for the weekend La Liga clash against Cadiz. There is a strong chance that the Real Madrid boss will go into the game with the same lineup as the one from the first leg in Spain last week.
It would see David Alaba replace Antonio Rudiger as Eder Militao’s centre-back partner while Dani Carvajal and Eduardo Camavinga reclaim their berths as the right-back and left-back, respectively. Antonio Rudiger, Lucas Vazquez, and Nacho Fernandez will drop to the bench.
Former Chelsea star Thibaut Courtois will continue to guard the goal on his return to Stamford Bridge.
Meanwhile, in midfield, Federico Valverde is expected to keep his place in the starting lineup. But there will be two other changes as the fit-again Toni Kroos should replace Aurelien Tchouameni as the pivot, while Luka Modric comes in for Dani Ceballos.
With Vinicius Jr returning, the attacking lineup picks itself for Real Madrid. The Brazilian ought to line up in his customary left-wing slot while his compatriot, Rodrygo Goes moves to the right flank. Club captain Karim Benzema will be the man spearheading Los Blancos’ attack against Chelsea.
Vinicius · Benzema · Rodrygo
Modric · Kroos · Valverde
Camavinga · Alaba · Militao · Carvajal
Marco Asensio has scored two goals in two games and will feel hard done by as he will be left out on the bench. But the Spaniard will invariably be called upon by manager Carlo Ancelotti at some point in the second period at Stamford Bridge.
Dani Ceballos is another player who will come on in the latter stages to add more legs and energy in midfield, while Aurelien Tchouameni could also get some minutes as Ancelotti looks to relieve the returning Toni Kroos.
Antonio Rudiger could also come onto the field in the second period, as he did in the first leg as he returns to Stamford Bridge for the first time since leaving Chelsea. If the game is in the bag, Eden Hazard could also make a token appearance on his return to Stamford Bridge, where he is still adored by the fans.
Brahim, Modric start in a 4-4-2: How Real Madrid could line up against Rayo Vallecano
Real Madrid have an excellent opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the La Liga table to eight points when they travel to Estadio de Vallecas to take on Rayo Vallecano on Sunday afternoon.
Real Madrid are currently five points clear of second-placed Girona and with the Catalans not playing until Monday night, Los Blancos have a chance to stretch their advantage with a win tomorrow.
Momentum is also on the side of Carlo Ancelotti’s men after they picked up two crucial victories against Girona (La Liga) and RB Leipzig (UEFA Champions League) over the past week.
But, Rayo Vallecano, who have a new manager in place in Inigo Perez, had managed to hold Real Madrid to a goalless draw in the reverse fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu. So, the game will not be straightforward on Sunday.
Here’s how Real Madrid could line up at the Vallecas as they look to take another step towards winning the La Liga title.
Andriy Lunin has firmly established himself as the preferred choice in goal ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga. As such, the Ukrainian should again start for Real Madrid against Rayo Vallecano.
There will be one change in the defensive line that took the field against Leipzig in midweek as Fran Garcia will step into the team at left-back with Ferland Mendy out of the squad due to suspension.
Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba, and Eder Militao are still injured, which means Aurelien Tchouameni will once again have to fill in at centre-back where he will partner captain Nacho Fernandez. Meanwhile, Dani Carvajal should continue on the right side of the defence.
Tchouameni starting in defence means one can expect Eduardo Camavinga to occupy the pivot position in the middle of the park for Real Madrid.
However, there could be a notable change in midfield, with Luka Modric getting a rare start after a period of inactivity, with Toni Kroos getting a breather. Federico Valverde will occupy the other interior midfield position for the visitors.
Brahim Diaz came off with a fitness issue against RB Leipzig in midweek, but is not injured and has been named in the squad list. Given his form, the Spaniard should again start in the hole behind the two forwards in the absence of Jude Bellingham, who is injured.
Up top, there is no looking past the Brazilian dynamic duo of Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Jr, both of whom will be raring to get on the scoresheet after not scoring against Leipzig.
Joselu is certain to come onto the pitch at some point in the game to provide a different kind of threat in the attacking third. Toni Kroos should also come off the bench, especially if things are not going Real Madrid’s way.
There could also be minutes for Arda Guler, who has not seen as much action as one would have expected since returning from injury. Dani Ceballos is also an option for Ancelotti if he wishes to relieve one of his midfielders.