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Official: Real Madrid starting lineup against Cacereno; Cope del Rey RO32

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid turn their attention towards the Copa del Rey tonight, where they will take on Cacereno in the round of 32. Los Blancos have not won the King’s Cup since 2013/14, and will be looking to reach that peak this year after nearly a decade.

With Thibaut Courtois rested, Andriy Lunin takes over responsibility of the gloves in goal, guarded by a back-four. Alvaro Odriozola will be tasked with defending the left side, with Lucas Vazquez flanking the right.

Nacho has been tasked with the captain’s armband in the heart of the defence, paired alongside Eder Militao.

Ahead of them, Aurelien Tchouameni gets another start as the defensive midfielder. Dani Ceballos gets a second successive chance to impress Carlo Ancelotti on the left side of the midfield, while Eduardo Camavinga rounds off the XI on the right.

We will see Marco Asensio on the right side of the front-three, while Eden Hazard gets his first start of the season since 11th October, presumably on the left-wing. Rodrygo takes over responsibilities from Karim Benzema as the striker.

Confirmed Madrid starting XI:

Hazard · Rodrygo · Asensio
Ceballos · Tchouameni · Camavinga
Odriozola · Nacho · Militao · Vazquez
Lunin

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Real Madrid News

Ancelotti’s dilemma: How will he handle a fully fit defense next season?

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Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid’s manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is set to face a challenging situation in restructuring his defence for the upcoming season and that is largely down to key players like David Alaba and Eder Militao are returning to full fitness. 

Interestingly, this situation might put Antonio Rudiger’s spot in the starting lineup under significant pressure.

Back when Rudiger joined Real Madrid he was supposed to strengthen a defence already featuring Alaba and Militao. Despite their young age, these two had firmly established themselves in the team. 

Over the past two years, however, Ancelotti has consistently relied on the duo, with Rudiger and Nacho serving as their main substitutes. 

A big decision awaits Ancelotti

As the new season approaches, Ancelotti faces a dilemma similar to the one he had with goalkeepers Andriy Lunin and Thibaut Courtois. A similar situation is likely to unfold with Rudiger and Militao vying for the right centre-back position.

It must be remembered that Militao suffered an untimely injury last season, prompting Ancelotti to choose Rudiger over Nacho, who, although right-footed, is also adept on the left side. 

Carlo Ancelotti needs to assess his defensive duo for next season. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

As the season progressed, Rudiger proved his worth, becoming a mainstay in the defense. His physical strength, bravery, and aerial prowess made him a reliable choice. 

His ability to play out from the back earned him the respect and confidence of his teammates, overshadowing Militao’s absence.

Rudiger’s importance has grown

Rudiger’s importance grew further when Alaba got injured in December. He became the cornerstone of the defence, often partnering with Nacho or Aurelien Tchouameni. Even when Rudiger played on the left side, the defensive structure remained solid.

When Militao returned in the last month and a half of the season, he struggled to regain his previous form. The long recovery period left emotional scars, and he was not the same player he had been before the injury. 

Consequently, Ancelotti opted to keep Rudiger in the lineup for crucial matches towards the end of the season.

With the new season on the horizon, Rudiger’s strong performances will present a significant challenge for Ancelotti. 

As Alaba also returns from injury, Ancelotti will have to decide who among Rudiger, Militao, and Alaba will be benched. 

Rudiger has proven his capability, often outperforming the Brazilian, whose post-injury form is still uncertain. 

Adding to the competition, Real Madrid might sign Leni Yoro and even Rafa Marin could return from his loan spell which could further complicate Ancelotti’s decisions.

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