Real Madrid will face the biggest test of their campaign to date when they lock horns with neighbours Atletico Madrid at the Civitas Metropolitano tonight.
Having lost the top spot in the La Liga standings to Barcelona, Los Blancos will be aware that anything less than a win would see them enter the international break behind their arch-rivals in the title race.
Add to it, they will also be motivated to win the bragging rights in the Madrid derby while looking to maintain their 100% win record in all competitions in 2022/23.
Unlike last season, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has not been shy of rotating his troops this time out. On Sunday, though, the Italian will pick his strongest possible XI to face Diego Simeone’s side and here we take a look at how the Merengues could line up at the Metropolitano.
The big boost for Real Madrid heading into the game is Eder Militao’s return to training after he missed the last two matches with an injury. The Brazilian should, in all likelihood, be reinstated to the starting lineup against the Rojiblancos.
Militao’s partner at the heart of the defence could likely be Antonio Rudiger, even though the German has not made the best possible start to life in Spain. His experience and aggressive nature could come in handy in a high-octane clash like the Madrid derby.
Should Rudiger slot in as the second centre-back, David Alaba will have to move to the left-back slot, with Ferland Mendy missing out from the lineup. Dani Carvajal is the undisputed starter at right-back, especially with Lucas Vazquez sidelined with injury.
Thibaut Courtois will guard the Real Madrid goal against his former club.
Luka Modric and Aurelien Tchouameni both started in the midweek win against RB Leipzig. The former has shown no signs of slowing down despite turning 37 while the latter has stepped into Casemiro’s shoes with ease. They should retain their spots in the lineup for the derby.
Eduardo Camavinga partnered the aforementioned duo against Leipzig but did not make the best impression. Furthermore, with Toni Kroos well-rested, the German pass master should come into the lineup and take up the third midfield slot ahead of the French wonderkid.
There is no reason for Ancelotti to change anything in attack especially with Karim Benzema still not available for selection. So, Rodrygo Goes should keep his spot as the No. 9 for Real Madrid against Atletico at the Metropolitano.
Rodrygo’s compatriot, Vinicius Jr, has been in the news leading up to the game due to the controversy surrounding him being subjected to a racist slur. So, all eyes will be on the 22-year-old forward, who will be Real Madrid’s chief threat in attack in Benzema’s absence.
Federico Valverde has scored two goals in the last two matches and will retain his spot on the right flank for the reigning champions of Spain later tonight.
Vinicius · Rodrygo · Valverde
Kroos · Tchouameni · Modric
Alaba · Rudiger · Militao · Carvajal
Off the bench
Eduardo Camavinga has featured regularly this season whether as a starter or off the bench and is almost guaranteed to come on as a substitute at some point in the game on the night.
Nacho Fernandez is another player that Ancelotti relies on heavily and could opt to throw him on in the latter stages of the contest if Los Blancos are looking to protect a lead. Dani Ceballos could also get a shot in such a situation.
Marco Asensio will be hopeful of getting more minutes after he scored his 50th goal for Real Madrid in the midweek win over RB Leipzig.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Osasuna
After a two-week hiatus from club football, Real Madrid return to action on Sunday night in a home game against Osasuna. The league leaders have been unstoppable so far this season, and the objective at the Bernabeu will be to keep their fine form going.
Jagoba Arrasate’s side have enjoyed a positive start to the season with four wins in six games so far. The Pamplona-based side sit sixth in the league standings ahead of the likes of Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.
Carlo Ancelotti will make several changes in his starting lineup on the night – some forced and some out of choice. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Los Blancos’ weekend clash.
1. Time to kick in the nitros
Real Madrid have been flawless this season and are the only club in the European top-flight to have not dropped a single point. While their start to the season has been nothing short of a fairytale, one wonders how long they can keep the magical streak going.
The month of October brings with it one of the most hectic schedules the club has seen in recent years. Over the next 30 days, Los Blancos play nine games across all competitions. In short, the equation boils down to a game every three days.
To come out on top in all nine games will require a superhuman effort from the Real Madrid players, but one knows well that the squad is capable of it. The team are in a strong headspace, and injecting the right amount of fuel at this point could propel their throttle and see them weather the storm.
A job well begun is half done, and Carlo Ancelotti will hope that his men can make a strong start to the month on Sunday night.
2. Coping without Modric
The FIFA International break has been cruel to clubs across the globe, with several key players returning injured and facing several weeks on the sidelines. The story for Real Madrid is no different.
Luka Modric played every minute of Croatia’s two friendlies in the last two weeks and even scored a goal in their 3-1 win over Austria. However, he suffered an injury to his hip and faces 8-10 days on the sidelines.
The veteran, at 37 years of age, has arguably been Real Madrid’s best player this season. In eight games, he has scored two goals and provided one assist for Los Blancos and continues to show the world why he is one of the best the game has seen.
Modric is expected to return for the Clasico in two weeks. However, one cannot help but wonder how Ancelotti compensates for such a big void.
It has been reported that the manager sees Dani Ceballos as the ideal man for the job. The 26-year-old impressed when given the start against Mallorca earlier this season, making four key passes and bagging one assist. Now, he could have his moment and a chance to prove his worth to the manager.
In Modric’s absence, Ceballos could start alongside Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos in the middle of the park. With Eduardo Camavinga quickly climbing up the pecking order, the 26-year-old must make the most of his chance on Sunday to secure a place in the coming games.
3. The return of the gladiator
After a slow start to the season, Karim Benzema bounced back with a brace against Espanyol on Matchday three. Just when it seemed like he had found his stride, however, he suffered a thigh injury and was ruled out for close to three weeks.
While the team found alternate sources of goals in his absence, it was clear that Los Blancos lacked a dominant presence in the box in recent weeks. With Benzema’s recovery close to complete, all eyes will be on him to see if he can find his feet again.
In his pre-match press conference, Ancelotti confirmed that the French international would start on Sunday though it is unlikely that he will play all 90 minutes. Nevertheless, this comes as a big relief to Real Madrid, given that they have no natural replacement for the centre-forward.
The captain will look to make a statement on his return on Sunday and will likely be deployed alongside Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.