Real Madrid start their Champions League defence tonight as they take on Celtic at the Celtic Park for the first gameweek of the group stages. As is tradition, the lineup for the game has been released two hours prior to kick-off.
Daniel Carvajal retains his first-choice spot as the right-back, starting alongside the usual suspects of David Alaba and Eder Militao. Ferland Mendy gets the nod as the left-back, while Thibaut Courtois is the starting goalkeeper.
Antonio Rudiger has been benched for this game, contrary to reports and predictions, but fellow new signing Aurelien Tchouameni is starting as the defensive midfielder as part of the trident in the centre of the park.
Toni Kroos returns to the lineup tonight, alongside his partner-in-crime, Luka Modric.
In attack, we will see top scorer from last season, Karim Benzema, spearhead the lineup, donning the captain’s armband. Vinicius Junior takes his place on the left of the trio, while Federico Valverde is on the right.
Confirmed Madrid XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Tchouameni, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius
UFC Champion to kick off Real Madrid vs Sevilla, sends message to Mbappe: “Lucky to play for the best club in the world”
Coming on the back of his triumph at UFC, Featherweight champion Ilia Topuria has announced he will take honorary kick-off in the upcoming Real Madrid vs Sevilla in La Liga this weekend.
Topuria confirmed this in a recent press conference in the Spanish capital this midweek.
A self-proclaimed Madridista, Topuria expressed his deep connection with the club and even sent a message to Kylian Mbappe, who is widely expected to join the club on a free transfer this summer.
Ilia Topuria: A hardcore Madridista
Ilia Topuria did not hold back his affection for Real Madrid, stating, “For me, the team that represents the values of Spain the most is Real Madrid.”
The Georgian-Spaniard UFC champion went on to confirm that he will meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off.
“I’m going to meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off,” he said (h/t Mundo Deportivo).
Although born in Germany, Topuria made Spain proud last Saturday when he beat Alexander Volkanovski in the second round. In the process, he became the first fighter from Spain to capture a UFC belt.
Topuria’s triumph has granted him overnight success in Spain, with the 27-year-old even becoming a cultural icon for many.
Topuria’s message for Mbappe
Other than professing his love for Real Madrid, Ilia Topuria also had a message for Mbappe.
When asked about the Frenchman potentially joining Real Madrid this summer, he said, “Welcome. He’s lucky to play for the best club in the world.”
Real Madrid, for their part, also congratulated Topuria on his triumph. “Congratulations on your historic triumph for Spanish sport, Ilia Topuria. We are proud that a great Real Madrid fan like you becomes UFC world champion,” the club posted on X.
Real Madrid fans, meanwhile, will be excited to witness Topuria taking the honorary kickoff as Los Blancos take on Sevilla this weekend, with three crucial points on the line.