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

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Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images

As the world gears up for the second official El Clasico of the season, Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has a lot to ponder. Two primary concerns outline the Italian tactician’s approach to Sunday’s game – his team’s poor form and the unavailability of critical players through injury.

What the manager does have on his side, however, is the mentality of the team he has built. Rather than being a champion team, Real Madrid have proved over the past year to be a team of champions. Needless to say, the men in white will not allow any external factors to diminish their confidence or drive on the night.

Ahead of the clash later today, Madrid Universal brings you an overview of how Ancelotti can lineup his troops against Barcelona to maximise their output and clinch the title.

Starters

When nothing separated Real Madrid and Valencia at the end of 120 minutes, it was Thibaut Courtois who came up clutch in the penalty shootout to see his side progress. He will start in goal against FC Barcelona and look to carry forward his good record against the Catalans.

The injury to Lucas Vazquez in the previous encounter leaves Carlo Ancelotti with only one option at right-back – Dani Carvajal. The Spaniard will go up against Ousmane Dembele on Sunday and will have to be at his best to stop arguably Barcelona’s best player.

The central defence, again, is a no-brainer for the manager given David Alaba’s unavailability. With Eder Militao back in training normally, the Brazilian is expected to lead the Merengues’ defence alongside Antonio Rudiger.

Ferland Mendy will start at left-back and must take up an enhanced role in the attack. Los Blancos will be limited in their progression on the right wing owing to Dembele’s threat, thus putting the onus on Mendy to be the primary attacking full-back tonight.

Barcelona boast one of the world’s most technical midfield in the form of Pedri, Gavi, and Frenkie de Jong. One would thus expect Ancelotti to call up his veterans against Xavi’s side and use their experience to exploit the flaws in the young Catalan core.

Modric to return to the lineup (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Luka Modric and Toni Kroos hence become guaranteed starters on the night. The German International will cover for the missing Tchouameni as the pivot while the 37-year-old wields his wand higher up on the field.

The third place in the middle of the park is expected to go to Federico Valverde. Notably, it was Real Madrid’s clash against Barcelona in the same competition last season that sparked the youngster’s magnificent run of form.

Vinicius Jr is the player with the most to prove on Sunday night. His recent form has been abysmal, analogous to his record in recent Clasicos. After two poor games in the past week, can the Brazilian strike gold in the final and silence his critics? Only time will tell.

The 22-year-old will play to the left of Karim Benzema, who will start as the centre-forward against Barcelona. After his ill-treatment in the World Cup, the Frenchman will be desperate to shine on the big games and prove his ability to his doubters. Clearly, it does not get bigger than El Clasico.

The final spot on the XI will go to the young Rodrygo Goes. Though not a regular starter, the Brazilian international has always delivered the promised impact when given the chance.

He shone brilliantly when he played against Xavi’s side earlier this season and even netted Real Madrid’s third goal in the game.

Substitutes

Carlo Ancelotti confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Eduardo Camavinga had recovered well from his fitness setback and confirmed his participation in the final. Given the impact the Frenchman brings as a substitute, he will certainly come onto the field for a cameo.

Nacho Fernandez could well come on in the final minutes of the game to relieve Eder Militao who is just returning from a mild injury. Marco Asensio could bring much-needed fresh legs into the game in the second half to improve the tempo and liven up the attack.

Eden Hazard has been far from the player initially expected at the time of his arrival. Yet, the manager could turn to him if the situation calls for an urgent goal in the dying minutes.

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Features

Euro 2024: Rating every Real Madrid player’s performance at the tournament

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Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

The UEFA Euro 2024 came to an end last night with Spain being crowned the champions of Europe thanks to a 2-1 victory over England in Berlin.

Considering how well La Roja played throughout the tournament and their performance in the finals on Sunday night, they were the deserved winners of the trophy.

With Spain lifting the trophy, Real Madrid veteran defender Dani Carvajal added another title to his already successful campaign finishing 2023/24 as a La Liga, Champions League, and EURO winner.

Nacho and Joselu, who were still contracted with Real Madrid when the Euro started, joined Carvajal on that list while Jude Bellingham finished on the losing side.

Real Madrid had a total of 13 players representing them at the Euros in Germany and not all managed to make a solid impression. Here are how the Merengues’ stars fared at the European Championships.

Spain

Dani Carvajal: 8/10

The Spanish right-back was one of the stars of the show at the Euros, playing an integral role in La Roja’s success. Carvajal kicked off his first Euro with a goal in the opening game against Croatia and continued to be a reliable player for Spain both in defence and attack.

Carvajal forged a strong partnership with Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal on the right flank and even played a key role in the team’s opening goal against England in the final.

Nacho: 6/10

Technically no longer a Real Madrid player, Nacho was still contracted with the club when the Euros kicked off. Starting in the opener against Croatia, he helped Spain to a clean sheet against Croatia.

The veteran defender also put in solid shifts in the quarter-final and semi-final ties against Germany and France, respectively and helped see out the game against England last night.

Joselu: N/A

Behind the likes of Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal in the pecking order, Joselu, who left Real Madrid at the end of June, played just 90 minutes across two games.

England

Jude Bellingham: 6.5/10

Failed to deliver. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Having enjoyed a dream season with Real Madrid, Jude Bellingham was unable to replicate those performances for England.

While he did score two crucial goals, including a stunning bicycle kick to keep his team alive against Slovakia, and assisted Cole Palmer’s strike in the finals, his overall display left a lot to be desired.

France

Kylian Mbappe: 6/10

Real Madrid’s newest acquisition, all eyes were on Mbappe heading into the Euros. And even though France made it as far as the semi-finals, the 25-year-old failed to live up to the expectations with a nose injury impacting his displays.

Mbappe finished the tournament with a solitary goal and two assists, but as he admitted after the defeat to Spain, his Euro will go down as a failure.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 6/10

Making a return from injury during the tournament, the Real Madrid midfielder was a solid presence in the centre of the park for France alongside N’Golo Kante without really standing out a great deal.

The 24-year-old provided strength and stability in midfield for Les Bleus and even tried to get upfield in matches. But his shooting from distance was way off the mark.

Not up to the mark. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Eduardo Camavinga: 5/10

Starting just one of France’s six games and featuring as a substitute in three more, Eduardo Camavinga was not a major presence for Didier Deschamps’ side at the Euros which came as a surprise.

The Real Madrid starlet did show glimpses of quality when he did get a chance but not enough for him to make an impact.

Ferland Mendy: N/A

Having made a return to the France setup for the first time since 2022, Mendy did not play a single minute at the Euros, with former Real Madrid left-back, Theo Hernandez being preferred by the manager.

Germany

Antonio Rudiger: 7/10

Carrying on from where he left off for Real Madrid, Rudiger was a solid presence at the heart of the German defence at the Euros in his homeland.

Came up against some tricky forwards throughout the hosts’ quarterfinal run but did well to hold his own, but was guilty of losing Mikel Merino for Spain’s goal that eliminated Germany.

Toni Kroos: 6.5/10

It was not a fairytale ending for Kroos, who waved goodbye to his international career with a forgettable display against Spain during which he could have been easily sent off for the array of fouls he committed.

Prior to that, however, Kroos was instrumental for Germany in their run until the quarterfinals, stringing play together from the centre of the park.

Turkey

Arda Guler: 7/10

Arda Guler made a good impression at the Euros. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

One of the breakout stars of the Euros, Arda Guler showcased his talent and potential, helping Turkey to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

The 19-year-old started off with a wonder-goal against Georgia and also added two assists to his tally in his first major tournament, following in the footsteps of greats like Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. A bright future awaits.

Croatia

Luka Modric: 6/10

Unlike recent years, Luka Modric’s Croatia were unable to get past the group stages, with the veteran midfielder finishing the tournament with a goal from under 240 minutes.

Ukraine

Andriy Lunin: 2/10

Started the tournament as Ukraine’s No. 1 against Romania but made costly errors that saw him lose his place in the starting XI. Did not feature again after the opener as his team crashed out of the group stages.

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