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Real Madrid out-of-favour star helped team during penalty shootouts vs Man City

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Real Madrid punched their ticket to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League last night after defeating Manchester City via penalty shootout at the Etihad Stadium.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men put up a monumental fight against Pep Guardiola’s men for 120 minutes before holding their nerves in the critical moments in the shootout to emerge triumphant.

There were a lot of heroes across the pitch for Los Blancos, starting from Antonio Rudiger, who again silenced Erling Haaland and scored the match-winning penalty, to Rodrygo Goes, whose early goal allowed Real Madrid to play the way they wanted to.

Andriy Lunin also deserves a great deal of credit for keeping Real Madrid in the hunt with key stops throughout the game before thwarting two Man City stars from the spot during the shootout.

Kepa Arrizabalaga an unsung hero?

However, Lunin also had help from one of Real Madrid’s out-of-favour players in the form of Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The on-loan Chelsea star has not played for the Merengues for a while now with Lunin firmly establishing himself as the preferred option in goal.

But that has not stopped Kepa from contributing as was visible last night. Even though he was not on the field, the Spaniard spoke with Lunin right before the penalty shootout started at the Etihad Stadium.

Real Madrid assistant manager Davide Ancelotti went on to confirm that Kepa provided inputs leading up to the shootout.

“I consulted about the penalty takers with my father. With the help of Kepa and some players, we changed a couple of them,” Davide said in the mixed zone after the game, as quoted by El Larguero.

Having faced Bernardo Silva on many occasions in the past and played with Mateo Kovacic at Chelsea, Kepa might have had provided some key inputs which may have contributed to Lunin’s heroics.

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Real Madrid News

Official: Real Madrid announce starting lineup to face Real Betis

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Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Real Madrid will sign off on their successful La Liga campaign today with a fixture against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The game, being seen as a final preparation for the UEFA Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund, sees manager Carlo Ancelotti field his strongest possible lineup.

All eyes will obviously be on the retiring Toni Kroos, who bids goodbye to the Bernabeu in what will be his final home game as a Real Madrid player.

The German international starts in the centre of the park alongside Federico Valverde, while Eduardo Camavinga slots in as the No. 6.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid captain, Nacho Fernandez, also starts in what could be his last game at the Bernabeu as well.

Nacho pairs up with Antonio Rudiger in defence, flanked by the full-back pairing of Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy. Thibaut Courtois starts in goal ahead of Andriy Lunin and Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Up front, Vinicius Jr. starts in attack, partnering up with Rodrygo Goes. Top scorer Jude Bellingham occupies the attacking midfield role for Real Madrid.

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