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Militao returns; Kroos, Modric start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against Atletico

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Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

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.

Defence

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.

Midfield

Toni Kroos set to return to the lineup for the derby (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

Attack

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
Courtois

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.

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Features

Real Madrid 1-0 Sevilla: Player Ratings

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Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Following Barcelona’s convincing 4-0 win against Getafe yesterday, the onus was on Real Madrid to reinstate the eight-point gap between the sides as they hosted Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu today.

Lucas Vazquez opened the scoring for los blancos after ten minutes, but the goal was controversially disallowed for a foul on Youssef En-Nesyri in the build-up.

Madrid found it difficult to unlock Sevilla’s defence after that, with the first-half ending 0-0 after just one shot on target from both teams combined.

Madrid started the second 45 with more intent, creating some better scoring opportunities, but were left without success until an unbelievable effort from Luka Modric scathed the post and went in.

Sergio Ramos put in a wonderful performance on his return to the Santiago Bernabeu for Sevilla, but it was not enough as Madrid escaped with all three points and an eight-point lead on top of the table.

Andriy Lunin: 8

Was not called into action in the first-half, and was pretty much faultless in possession. But made an incredible save off Romero’s effort in the second half and was extremely proactive collecting crosses, too. Game-changing.

Lucas Vazquez: 7

Did a good job overlapping and was unlucky that his goal was disallowed. Did well to deal with Romero and Ocampos defensively.

Antonio Rudiger: 6.5

Rudiger was lucky that Romero and En-Nesyri did not convert their efforts from close range, as he often left space in behind. Went up to attack with the score at 0-0, too, but came back fruitless.

Nacho: 6

Was substituted off after 75 minutes after an mostly average display. Again, lucky that he was not punished for the space he left behind.

Ferland Mendy: 7

A few decent moves for Mendy today, but for the most part, his inability to overlap properly gave Vinicius too much to do.

Federico Valverde: 8

By far the most active midfielder today, Valverde was everywhere. Ran the show for Madrid, both in possession and stopping counter attacks before they even started. Missed the easiest chance of the game, though.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 6.5

Did his job as the 6 well, kept the game ticking and kept finding the spare man in midfield. Moved back to the defence eventually, and came away with a clean sheet.

Toni Kroos: 7

With Madrid struggling to break through Sevilla’s defence, Kroos was tasked with a lot of deep progression. Created some tame chances here and there, but failed to find properly find a man through.

Brahim Diaz: 7.5

Kept Kike Salas and Ocampos on their toes, making some tremendous solo runs from deep, but was often left without support. Created a brilliant chance for Valverde, that was scuffed.

Rodrygo: 7

Did not take many risks in possesion, but was crucial in Vinicius and Brahim finding space on the wing by offering support.

Vinicius Jr: 7.5

With the Sevilla defence looking very organised, the onus was on Vinicius to create something out of nothing. He attempted a few different things, including flicking the ball over players and attempting shots from distance, but all unsuccessful.

Has to be credited for the effort, though, especially with the rest of the team lacking.

SUBSTITUTES

Luka Modric: 8.5

Super-sub Luka Modric coming in clutch for Madrid today with his wonder goal from outside the box. Was also brilliant in possession, increasing the tempo of the game.

Dani Ceballos: N/A

Alvaro Rodriguez: N/A

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