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Nico Paz, Modric start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could lineup against Union Berlin



Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

Real Madrid will be in two minds after watching Barcelona losing 2-4 against Girona on the weekend.

They will definitely be happy watching their rivals fail after dropping points against Real Betis on Saturday. But, they will also be worried about Girona, who have now gone two points clear on top of La Liga.

While the La Liga title race is still very much open, Real Madrid’s focus will shift to the Champions League, where they will take on Union Berlin in the final game of the group stages.

Madrid have already secured first place in the group, and are eight points clear off Napoli, who are second, but they will want to return to winning ways, and end the group run six-for-six.

While Carlo Ancelotti has said he is not thinking about rotating his team too much, some key players will definitely start on the bench keeping in mind fatigue, and the weekend clash against Villarreal.

Defence: Kepa returns, Nacho starts

Kepa Arrizabalaga is expected to return to the starting lineup fold tomorrow after being benched on the weekend for Andriy Lunin, who was putting up superb individual performances in the Spaniard’s absence.

“It is unfair to leave anyone on the bench. Kepa will start tomorrow. Lunin? I can’t start everyone,” Ancelotti said about the situation.

Anonio Rudiger has played in all but one game so far this season for Real Madrid, starting 19 out of the 20. He has also played 540 minutes for Germany across international breaks, and deserves to be rested tomorrow.

Nacho is expected to take over his place in the backline, with David Alaba likely to retain his position as the other centre-back.

Fran Garcia could be given the chance to prove his mettle tomorrow, with a start as the left-back. The Spaniard has three assists in the league this season (three more than Ferland Mendy), but has not started a game in over a month.

Garcia’s performances warrant another start. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Lucas Vazquez will predictably continue as the right-back, with Daniel Carvajal injured till early 2024.

Midfield: First start for Paz?

We expect Ancelotti to revert to classic 4-4-2 tomorrow and rest Jude Bellingham, who was on target once again this weekend against Real Betis.

This opens up the doors for Nico Paz to get his first start in Real Madrid colours. He will take his place on the left side of the midfield-four, while Federico Valverde retains his spot in the lineup, this time playing out wide on the right.

Meanwhile, in the double pivot, we will likely see Toni Kroos and Luka Modric gear up next to each other once again.

Attack: Diaz to continue

Rodrygo came back from the last international break fatigued and with a knock. However, he did not get time to rest with Vinicius Jr injured. Ancelotti could look to start him from the bench tomorrow, though.

In his place, we expect Joselu to take one of the spots in attack, while Brahim Diaz will start next to him, playing a slightly deeper role while supporting the midfield.

Joselu · Diaz
Paz · Kroos · Modric · Valverde
Garcia · Alaba · Nacho · Vazquez


Ancelotti will likely be very careful with certain roles due to the lack of reinforcements available in the squad. As such, Vazquez could come off for Vinicius Tobias, who has been called up from Castilla.

Similarly, youngsters like Gonzalo Garcia and Mario Martin could get some minutes off the bench in midfield and attack. The former has played some minutes in the league, while the latter is yet to make his first-team debut.

Dani Ceballos will likely get some time to make an impact off the bench, if he does not start in the first place already.

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Kroos, Courtois start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could lineup against Real Betis



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Having won the league comfortably after accumulating 94 points in 37 games, Real Madrid’s main objective for the last game of the season, set to go ahead tomorrow, against Real Betis, would be to finish on 97 points.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are coming off a 4-4 draw against Villarreal last weekend, Madrid will be looking to end the domestic season with a win, which would also serve as a huge confidence boost ahead of their Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund.

Reports have suggested that Ancelotti is alternating his lineup ahead of the UCL final to keep his troops fit and gunning. And after rotations last week against Villarreal, all signs point towards the best XI taking the field vs Betis.

Keeping that in mind, Madrid Universal takes a jab at the 14-time Champions League winners’ final starting lineup of the season for their game against Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis.

Defence: Militao or Nacho?

Andriy Lunin returned to guard the posts against Villarreal, which could be a sign that Ancelotti is preparing to use Thibaut Courtois as his goalkeeper against Dortmund. As such, we expect the Belgian to handle the gloves tomorrow.

Daniel Carvajal is expected to replace Lucas Vazquez as the right-back, while Ferland Mendy returns to take over his left-back role.

Antonio Rudiger’s spot does not seem to be in any threat at all, but there are question marks over who will start alongside him, especially on the back of Eder Militao’s disastrous performance vs Villarreal.

Consequently, Nacho might get the nod tomorrow, especially since it could be his last game for Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Midfield: Farewell Toni

While Nacho’s future is still up in the air, Toni Kroos announced his decision to leave Madrid at the end of the season on a free transfer. He will play his final game at home tomorrow, and is expected to get a huge farewell.

Kroos’ last game in Madrid colours. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Federico Valverde will aid him in midfield, playing on the right side of the trident, while Eduardo Camavinga starts as the defensive midfielder to cover for the injured Aurelien Tchouameni.

Attack: No doubts

The attack pretty much picks itself, especially if Ancelotti is truly planning on mirroring the lineup that will likely start the Champions League final as well.

Jude Bellingham will retain his spot as the false 9, playing slightly off left as he has done more so in recent weeks.

Brazilian powerhouse Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo will get the license to start as the two forwards up top, playing in front of Bellingham.

Off the bench

Joselu will almost definitely get some minutes tomorrow, and more than likely in the Champions League final as well, especially owing to his brilliance against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals.

Similarly, Ancelotti could opt to experiment with Luka Modric in midfield in the second half, especially if Tchouameni does not make it back in time to full fitness ahead of the final.

Eder Militao and Arda Guler are also in for some minutes tomorrow, with the latter on the scoresheet four time sin the last three games.

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