As Real Madrid get set to take on SC Braga in matchweek four of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League, manager Carlo Ancelotti has announced the starting lineup for the game at the Santiago Bernabeu.
In a big call, the Real Madrid boss has opted to bench Jude Bellingham, following his shoulder injury during the game against Rayo Vallecano. The Englishman has been named among the substitutes, however.
Stepping into the side in his place is Brahim Diaz, who has hardly received any minutes so far this season.
Meanwhile, there is another change in attack as Rodrygo Goes returns to partner Vinicius Jr., with Joselu dropping out.
Toni Kroos comes into the Real Madrid lineup at the expense of fellow veteran Luka Modric, who started against Rayo. Federico Valverde is the second interior midfielder while Eduardo Camavinga continues as the lone pivot.
Three changes have been made in the Merengues’ backline as well, with Lucas Vazquez, Nacho Fernandez, and Ferland Mendy coming in for Dani Carvajal, David Alaba, and Fran Garcia, respectively.
Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga complete the lineup for Real Madrid against Braga.
Real Madrid youngster in line for significant minutes against Granada – report
Nico Paz was long hyped as Real Madrid Castilla’s brightest upcoming star. The media constantly kept the spotlight on the young Argentine through pre-season as he made a strong impression under Carlo Ancelotti in preseason.
His breakthrough eventually arrived, courtesy of Real Madrid’s injury crisis. He has now made two appearances for the team in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League and even recorded his first goal for the club earlier this week against Napoli.
Taking his chances
As revealed by AS (h/t The Madrid Zone), Paz has impressed management with his cameo against Napoli and will be called up for Real Madrid’s clash against Granada tomorrow.
In fact, there is a good chance he sees significant game time on the night.
After all, Ancelotti is without the likes of Luka Modric, Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga in the middle of the park.
With Toni Kroos, Dani Ceballos, Federico Valverde, and Jude Bellingham filling the starting spots, Paz serves as the manager’s first-choice backup off the bench.
Paz voices his elation
Paz’s introduction against Napoli changed the texture of the game, and it was only poetic that he got the goal that put Real Madrid ahead again on the night.
Speaking to the media after his special night, the Castilla star did not hold back on his emotions.
“This is a dream. For a moment I didn’t even believe it. Very happy to be able to help the team. I dared. I was in automatic mode, I didn’t even know what I was doing. I hit it and well.”
“This is also a message for the other youth players: it is possible to get there. Ancelotti congratulated me, and the whole staff. They are an incredible group and I want to thank them all,” he added, urging his Castilla teammates to keep pushing.