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One step at a time: The roadmap for Real Madrid to handle Eder Militao’s comeback

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Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Turning back the clock to Real Madrid’s last clash against Athletic Club takes one back to the opening match day of La Liga.

Real Madrid were getting started on a new season, fresh from the disappointing news of Thibaut Courtois’ ACL injury.

The men in white got off to a stunning start, with Rodrygo and Jude Bellingham giving the team a 2-0 lead with just over half an hour on the clock. However, it did not take long for the game to take a horrific turn.

Five minutes after the break, Real Madrid’s Eder Militao went down in excruciating pain. His eyes and the expressions of teammates around him made it very clear – he had suffered a gruesome injury.

The Brazilian was soon diagnosed with the same setback as Courtois, a tear on his Anterior Cruciate Ligament which could potentially end his season before it started.

The poetic timing

Real Madrid face Athletic Club for the reverse league fixture this weekend once more. Almost poetically, Militao has been included in the squad for the first time since his injury against the same opponent and will be on the bench on Sunday.

The past eight months have not been easy for the Brazilian superstar. However, he hit all his deadlines with remarkable accuracy and, despite a minor setback, has made it back ahead of the anticipated time frame.

Militao is on the verge of a comeback. (Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)

The onus of utilising his services and slowly incorporating him into the dynamics now falls on Carlo Ancelotti. The post-recovery management, after all, is as important as the recovery itself.

Step by step

With Militao back in the mix, there is tangible excitement around Real Madrid’s upcoming clash against Manchester City. After all, the 26-year-old is the team’s best defender and will sit pretty in the starting lineup alongside Antonio Rudiger.

“Militao, maybe not, maybe yes. I’m not saying it’s 50%, it could be 70% no and 30% yes, but Militao is very important,” Ancelotti said earlier today when asked about the defender’s participation against Manchester City.

Despite the manager’s modesty in admitting that Militao could have minutes, it is in the best interest of all parties to limit the chances of his participation to 0%.

Out of match-rhythm for eight months, still recovering confidence after a long-term injury; Militao is simply not well placed to take on the load of a UEFA Champions League fixture just yet.

His return to action may well arrive tomorrow, but it is vital that it be limited to a few minutes. Even a five-minute cameo at the Santiago Bernabeu will give the player the adrenaline he requires, and that must be Ancelotti’s approach tomorrow.

Ancelotti & co. need to be cautious with Militao’s integration. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Weight off his shoulders

As the weeks fly by, it is only natural that Militao’s participation will slowly grow. Five minutes against Athletic Club may well become fifteen against Mallorca and 25 against Real Madrid Sociedad.

If everything goes to plan, he may well start by the time Real Madrid travel to Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes to face Granada.

However, it is Los Blancos’ safest bet to limit his minutes to La Liga until he has recovered his 100%. With the league all but won and the consequences of a mistake not as serious in the competition, it provides the ideal environment for Militao to work on his return.

The weight off his shoulders will go a long way in avoiding a relapse.

The UCL scenario

The clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City is indeed one between two of Europe’s finest forces. It will be the team’s most difficult challenge to conquer in their hypothetical run to the final.

Yet, Los Blancos must keep Militao well away from the action against Pep Guardiola’s side for both legs. Should his return in La Liga reach the desired peak at an optimal time, he can be re-introduced in the UCL in time for the semifinal or the grand finale.

After all, a little precaution and restraint at this point could help Real Madrid recover one of world football’s most elite defenders at the best of his abilities in a matter of weeks.

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MU Shorts

Best starting XI from the Champions League quarter-finals, four Real Madrid players included

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Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals were thrilling this season. Real Madrid showcased their dominance with an impressive victory over Manchester City, proving their status as a top contender in this competition. 

Bayern Munich’s experienced team taught Arsenal a tough lesson in play, while PSG observed Barcelona’s collapse in their own backyard. 

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund battled hard against Atletico Madrid to secure their spot in the next round. 

Now that we have our final four teams, it is time to take a look at the best XI that featured during the final eight.

Goalkeeper – Andriy Lunin

While Manchester City were better on paper, they could not do much to breach Real Madrid keeper Andriy Lunin. The Ukrainian made clutch saves and even denied Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic during the all-important shootout.

Andriy Lunin saved two penalties against Manchester City. (Photo by DARREN STAPLES/AFP via Getty Images)

Right-back – Joshua Kimmich

The Bayern Munich right-back was key to their success against Arsenal, especially in the second leg where his goal decided the fate of the teams. Overall, he locked down Arsenal’s left flank with relative ease and his move back to defence proved to be a masterstroke.

Centre-backs – Eric Dier and Antonio Rudiger

The 30-year-old Bayern Munich defender won four tackles, three interceptions and two aerial duals against Arsenal in the second leg alone, which warrants him a place in this setup.

Secondly, Antonio Rudiger was simply unplayable for a certain Erling Haaland across both legs. Although a substandard clearance allowed Man City to equalize in the second leg, his overall performance was excellent.

Left-back – Josko Gvardiol

Gvardiol made a notable impact in the first leg against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, scoring his first goal for Manchester City in style. Between the two legs, he had five tackles, four interceptions, three clearances, and three key passes to his name.

Right midfielder – Federico Valverde

Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde never missed an ounce of energy across the two legs. After having scored the equalizing goal in the first leg, his tireless strides at the Etihad were key to Madrid’s qualification.

Federico Valverde was key to Real Madrid’s success. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Defensive midfielder – Rodri

The Man City midfielder won five tackles between the two legs against Manchester City and was arguably their best player on the field across the two matches.

Left midfielder – Vitinha

Vitinha’s performance in the matches against Barcelona over the last two weeks has impressed many observers. The 24-year-old scored in both games and had a strong impact on the field with five shots, five key passes, and two successful dribbles.

Right winger – Ousmane Dembele

Before facing Barcelona last week, Ousmane Dembele had only scored one goal for his new club.

However, in the two games against his former team, he scored a goal in each match. Additionally, he made a significant impact with four key passes and five successful dribbles.

Centre-forward – Rodrygo

The Real Madrid frontman has always been Manchester City’s doom and even this season, he scored two goals across both legs, deserving a place in this XI.

Rodrygo scored in both games vs Man City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Left winger – Raphinha

Raphinha put in a strong performance in both matches against PSG, trying to lead his team to the semi-finals.

Although his efforts were admirable, they weren’t enough to secure victory. In the first leg at the Parc des Princes, he scored twice. In the return match in Spain, he opened the scoring. 

Over the course of both games, Raphinha took eight shots, made four key passes, and completed three successful dribbles.

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