Crisis is the mother of all opportunities if utilised in the right way. Real Madrid, amidst their difficult moment in central defence, are hoping to do the same.
Heading into the all-important and potentially title-deciding clash against Girona, Los Blancos are without any available centre-backs.
While Eder Militao and David Alaba are at different stages of recovery from their ACL injuries, Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez are doubts via short-term injuries.
Opportunity for a protege
As relayed by Rodra in a recent update, Carlo Ancelotti is keeping his options for the academy alive for the upcoming clash.
Through the team’s adversity, he has found means to covert it into opportunity and possibly hand a young talent his chance on the big stage.
Jacobo Ramon, Juvenil A’s star defender, is training with the first team today ahead of the weekend’s league clash and may have a chance of featuring on the night.
He is one of the academy’s highest-rated players and is seen as one who can make it big with the first team in the years to come.
The first option
While providing Ramon with a start at centre-back would be a viable option as he is a like-for-like replacement, the question of experience does come into play given the weight of the clash.
It is thus likely that Ancelotti will continue with Daniel Carvajal and Aurelien Tchouameni as his centre-backs on the night with Lucas Vazquez and Ferland Mendy covering the full-back positions.
Moreover, Rudiger has a chance of recovering in time for the clash, although it will be tight.
As for Ramon, he can expect minutes off the bench as the match progresses based on the situation on the field. A debut cannot be ruled out.
Ancelotti considering playing a makeshift centre-back pairing for Real Madrid against Valencia – report
Real Madrid will take on Valencia on Saturday, looking to maintain their solid lead at the top of the league table.
The Spanish giants are leading the standing with a six-point lead over Girona. A win against Valencia could help them solidify their position at the top while potentially opening up an opportunity to extend the lead to more than six points.
Heading into this game, though, Carlo Ancelotti is facing multiple setbacks, especially in the defensive unit, with Eder Militao, David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois still missing due to injuries.
This will once again put pressure on Ancelotti, as far as the team selection is concerned.
Rudiger & Tchouameni to partner at centre-back vs Valencia
Fortunately for the Real Madrid coach, much of his experimentations this season have worked, including Aurelien Tchouameni’s supreme performances at centre-back.
With that in mind, Diario AS reports Ancelotti is considering playing a makeshift central defensive pair against Valencia, comprising Antonio Rudiger and Tchouameni.
This is not the first time the young Frenchman will have to accompany Rudiger at centre-back. He did so earlier in the year when Real Madrid took on RCD Mallorca.
Interestingly, Real Madrid were able to retain a clean sheet, with Rudiger scoring the winning goal, in a narrow 1-0 victory.
What are Ancelotti’s other options?
Ancelotti will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around. However, it must be noted that the Italian will be boosted by the return of Dani Carvajal from suspension.
The veteran Spaniard can be an option at centre-back. But given the way how Tchouameni has impressed onlookers with his performances at centre-back, there is very little reason why he shouldn’t continue in the position.
Tchouameni has even been compared to Javier Mascherano by former Spanish coach Roberto Moreno.
Other than Carvajal, though, Nacho Fernandez is another option for Ancelotti. But the veteran defender is suffering with discomfort and Ancelotti has no plans to risk it.