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Modric, Camavinga start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against Barcelona

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid will look to take a step towards qualifying for the finals of the Copa del Rey when they host FC Barcelona in the first leg of the semi-finals at the Santiago Bernabeu later tonight.

Los Blancos have already played two El Clasicos this season, winning and losing one each and will be eager to get one over their bitter rivals which would put them in a strong position ahead of the second leg at Camp Nou next month.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men, however, head into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid and will need to put on a much better display than they did in the derby.

A lot will depend on how the Italian tactician goes about his team selection and here at Madrid Universal, we take a look at the potential lineup that the Merengues boss could field against Barça tonight.

Starters

Thibaut Courtois is the undisputed starter in goal for Real Madrid and will look to keep Barcelona out at the Santiago Bernabeu.

With Ferland Mendy and David Alaba both ruled out with injuries, veteran defender Nacho Fernandez should get the nod as the left-back. On the opposite flank, there is no looking past Dani Carvajal while Eder Militao and Antonio Rudiger should pair up at the heart of the backline.

The midfield department is where things get tricky for Ancelotti with regard to his selection as he has several options, of which he can choose only three.

Luka Modric did not start against Atletico Madrid and will be suspended for the next league game versus Real Betis. So, he is all but certain to feature from the get-go against Barcelona tonight.

Meanwhile, Eduardo Camavinga has been in top form of late, and having been granted some rest in the derby, the Frenchman should return to the lineup tonight against Xavi Hernandez’s side.

Kroos over Tchouameni? (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

It leaves the likes of Toni Kroos, Dani Ceballos, and Aurelien Tchouameni jostling for the final position in midfield. But, owing to his experience, it could be Kroos who gets the nod, which would mean Camavinga will likely line up in the No. 6 role.

Things are pretty straightforward for Ancelotti and Real Madrid when it comes to the attacking unit. Karim Benzema is a surefire starter in the No. 9 role while the same can be said of Vinicius Jr on the left flank, where he could be in for an interesting duel against Ronald Araujo.

With Rodrygo Goes returning from an injury only on Wednesday, Federico Valverde becomes the obvious pick for the right-wing for Real Madrid against Barcelona.

Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Modric, Camavinga, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius

Substitutes

Rodrygo and Marco Asensio have made decent impacts coming on as substitutes and are pretty much certain to step onto the pitch at some point in the second period.

Dani Ceballos could come in for either Modric or Kroos in order to add some energy and legs in the middle of the park.

Alvaro Rodriguez is the talk of the town after scoring his first goal for Real Madrid in the derby against Atletico. He could get a taste of his first-ever El Clasico tonight at the Bernabeu.

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MU Shorts

No better time than now – Ancelotti should start 19-year-old Real Madrid wonderkid vs Mallorca

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

With the amount of pressure always on them to win, it would not be wrong to say that Real Madrid have no easy fixtures on their calendar.

And over the next week, they face a daunting schedule that involves three games – one each against the Copa del Rey finalists of this season, the reigning champions of England and Europe, and the current La Liga title holders.

Of the three, tomorrow’s meeting against Mallorca, the Copa del Rey runners-up, even though not straightforward, is the easiest.

So, rotations are expected to be made, keeping in mind the upcoming games against Manchester City and FC Barcelona.

A case for Arda Guler to start

With changes likely to be made, there is no better time for Carlo Ancelotti to hand teenage sensation Arda Guler a start for Real Madrid against Mallorca.

Guler, 19, arrived at the Spanish capital club last summer from Fenerbahce amidst a lot of fanfare. But three back-to-back injuries derailed what could have been a dream debut campaign.

Having only recovered in January this year, Guler would have hoped to get going and racking up minutes, but it has not been that way for him.

Since returning from injury, Guler has featured in only seven matches across all competitions for Real Madrid, racking up a total of 98 minutes.

There have been occasions when the youngster has let the frustration get the better of him, but there is simply no denying the talent and quality he possesses.

In his five La Liga appearances, which total up to 31 minutes, Guler has scored a peach of a goal against Celta Vigo.

The Turkish international almost followed that up with a FIFA Puskas Award contender against Osasuna when his shot from the halfway mark hit the crossbar.

Time to unleash Guler? (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Fit and fresh

One of Ancelotti’s main argument for not playing Guler enough has been that the youngster needs to reach full fitness after the lengthy layoffs in the first half of the season.

And Guler has worked hard to address that, with his recent physical transformation evidence of the efforts he has put in to get into great shape physically.

Furthermore, having not played either of Real Madrid’s last two matches after the international break, he will be fresher than those who were part of the team against Manchester City this week.

Jude Bellingham looked scratchy and tired against the Cityzens, while Rodrygo is recovering from a knock and did not train today.

Speaking about Guler after the win against Celta, Ancelotti had said: “He played very little, just a few minutes, but I was convinced that he could do something.

“He is showing all his quality. He will have a future here. Nobody thinks he has no future here. He is a great talent.”

“He has a great talent that he has shown today. In the future, I’m not saying tomorrow, he’s going to get more minutes,” he added.

Considering all the factors, Saturday’s match against Mallorca might be the ideal time for Ancelotti to live up to his words and hand Guler his first La Liga start.

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