Modric, Valverde return; Hazard starts in a 4-3-3: Predicted Real Madrid lineup against Girona
Having lost their first match of the season against RB Leipzig earlier this week, Real Madrid will be aiming to bounce back strongly when they host Girona at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga on Sunday.
Los Blancos will need to make sure that they do not drop points, especially with Barcelona breathing down their necks.
However, Carlo Ancelotti will have to cope with the absence of his captain and ace goalscorer Karim Benzema once again. With Rodrygo Goes’ involvement also not certain, the Italian tactician will have a few important decisions to make with regard to his team selection against Girona.
And Madrid Universal takes a look at how Real Madrid could line up on Sunday at the Bernabeu.
Thibaut Courtois is a confirmed starter in goal for Real Madrid when fit and available. The goalkeeper was critical of his teammates in midweek after letting in three goals and will be hoping to secure a clean sheet.
There are expected to be wholesale changes in defence, with Eder Militao the only player likely to retain his spot from the RB Leipzig encounter. Partnering the Brazilian should be David Alaba, coming into the team in place of Nacho Fernandez.
Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal ought to replace Antonio Rudiger and Lucas Vazquez as the full-backs on the left and right sides, respectively.
Moving into the middle of the park, Luka Modric has returned to training for Real Madrid and should walk right back into the starting XI against Girona. The Croatian will be partnered by fellow veteran Toni Kroos as the pair look to control and dictate the tempo of the game.
Aurelien Tchouameni should continue anchoring the midfielder, where he could have to keep an eye out on the in-form Aleix Garcia.
The attacking unit is where things get tricky for Ancelotti and Real Madrid. Vinicius Jr is a guaranteed starter on the left flank and will act as the primary attacking threat for the home team in Benzema’s absence.
Federico Valverde, back from his injury, could feature from the get-go, although Ancelotti has the option of continuing with Marco Asensio in case he does not wish to rush the Uruguayan midfielder back.
As for the centre-forward slot, with Rodrygo recovering from an illness, he might not be in a position to start against Girona. It could force Ancelotti to hand Eden Hazard a rare opportunity as the false-nine ahead of Mariano. The Belgian has not played in the league since September 11 and must make the most of his chance.
Vinicius • Hazard • Valverde
Kroos • Tchouameni • Modric
Mendy • Alaba • Militao • Carvajal
Eduardo Camavinga is pretty much guaranteed to come on at some stage in the second half to provide relief for Modric. Dani Ceballos, who is back from injury, could also get a few minutes depending on the circumstances of the game, while the same will hold for Mariano Diaz as well.
Marco Asensio has done well off the bench in the past few matches and could look to make an impact again in the latter stages of the game.
Benzema, Camavinga start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against Liverpool
Real Madrid will look to secure their place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League when they take on Premier League bigwigs Liverpool in the second leg of their Round of 16 encounter tonight.
The Merengues are already in a solid position thanks to their 5-2 comeback victory in the first leg at Anfield, led by brilliant performances from Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema.
But the job is far from done as the Reds are perfectly capable of mounting a strong comeback, having done so in the past against Barcelona only a few years ago. The recent 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United also showed the capabilities of Jurgen Klopp’s men.
So, Carlo Ancelotti & co. will need to be professional and get the job done while guarding against any sort of complacency. The manager has a near-full squad at his disposal, with David Alaba the only player missing with an injury.
With the game set to kick off at the Santiago Bernabeu later tonight, Madrid Universal takes a look at how Los Blancos could line up against Liverpool.
Thibaut Courtois is a certain starter in goal for Real Madrid and will look to keep a clean sheet this time out after letting in two goals at Anfield in the reverse fixture.
The Belgian international will likely be shielded by the centre-back pairing of Eder Militao, who was in fine nick against Espanyol over the weekend, and Antonio Rudiger.
Dani Carvajal is a guaranteed starter at right-back, while Nacho Fernandez is set to get the nod on the left side after his solid performance after coming on as a substitute at Anfield. Ferland Mendy is back in the squad, but is unlikely to be thrust into the spotlight right away.
Moving into the middle of the park, Carlo Ancelotti has always banked on the experience of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos for the big games, and that will not change tonight against Liverpool at the Bernabeu.
The defensive midfield slot is up for grabs with neither Aurelien Tchouameni nor Eduardo Camavinga impressing against Espanyol. But, Camavinga has been in a much better nick in recent times than his compatriot and should get the nod.
As for the attacking trident, captain Karim Benzema is back in the squad after sitting out against Espanyol with an ankle issue. He is certain to start as the centre-forward while Vinicius Jr is a certainty on the left flank.
On the right, the likes of Rodrygo Goes, Marco Asensio and Federico Valverde are all options for Ancelotti, but it is the latter who is likely to get the nod tonight.
Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Modric, Camavinga, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius.
Rodrygo Goes has often made a big impact coming off the bench, especially in the big games and is certain to get minutes at some stage against Liverpool. Marco Asensio is another player who can provide goals from the bench and can be an asset.
Alternatively, if Carlo Ancelotti is looking to shore things up in midfield, the energy of Dani Ceballos might come in handy while Aurelien Tchouameni would also be in contention.
Youngster Alvaro Rodriguez has been making quite an impression of late and could get some minutes under his belt as well.