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Real Madrid’s expected starting lineup vs Bayern Munich

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The eyes of the football audience will shift to the Champions League once again this week, as Real Madrid and PSG make the trip to Germany to take on Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, respectively, for the semi-finals matchup.

The Madrid game at the Allianz Arena, especially, is expected to be a cracker-and-a-half. The two sides have met each other more than any other tie in Champions League, and a lot of expectations are on this tie to potentially decide the eventual winner of this season.

However, both teams are facing some uncertainties in their squad. Munich, for example, might not have Jamal Musiala, Matthijs de Ligt, and Kingsley Coman available for this game, while Leroy Sane is a doubt as well.

As for Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti could make some surprise changes to his starting lineup tomorrow.

Changes in defence and midfield?

While Aurelien Tchouameni started the first-leg clash against Manchester City as a centre-back, he was unavailable for the return fixture, which gave way to Nacho to take his place alongside Antonio Rudiger.

The Spaniard was at the top of his game, and made no mistakes during the tie as Madrid progressed on penalties.

Carlo Ancelotti could stick to Nacho for the first-leg tomorrow, as he lines up alongside Antonio Rudiger in defence, who will be responsible for keeping a keen eye on a certain Harry Kane.

These two are expected to guard Andriy Lunin in goal, who was rested against Real Sociedad on the weekend.

Meanwhile, with Daniel Carvajal suspended, Lucas Vazquez would get the nod to start as the right-back, with Ferland Mendy the likeliest to assume responsibilities on the left side of the back-four.

The latter is coming off an incredible Man of the Match performance vs Barcelona last weekend, scoring and assisting one, while also winning a penalty.

Running the show. (Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)

This back-four selection would open the doors for Aurelien Tchouameni to start in midfield, in his preferred no. 6 role, while Federico Valverde flanks him on the right side.

One of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will get the nod to take the final spot in the trident, and we expect the former to be chosen tomorrow, owing to his performance vs Barcelona and Man City.

No doubt about the attacking trio

Ancelotti does not have the privilege of shuffling around the attack as much as the defence and midfield, and neither would he want to make too many changes to an offensive strategy that is clearly working.

As such, Jude Bellingham will be given the license to operate in his usual false 9/no. 10 role, playing ahead of the midfield.

Vinicius Jr will resume duties as the left-sided forward, as Thomas Tuchel pointed out, while Rodrygo will complete the lineup as the furthest man forward.

Brahim Diaz and Joselu are options that Ancelotti can rely on in the second-half, especially against tiring legs. Similarly, Eduardo Camavinga has been on an impressive run of form, and will definitely get some minutes.

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Features

Three talking points ahead of Villarreal vs Real Madrid

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Jr, Federico Valverde and Arda Guler were all on target when Real Madrid demolished Deportivo Alaves by a 5-0 scoreline midweek.

The win at the Santiago Bernabeu took the team to 93 points in La Liga, with the champion status already earned. The target now, however, is to reach the magical number of 99 points.

Tomorrow, Los Blancos step on the field for their penultimate league clash of the season as they lock horns against Villarreal.

Their opponents, currently placed eighth in the league, are fighting for a place in Europe and must win tomorrow at Estadio de La Ceramica if they are to remain in the race.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Villarreal vs Real Madrid.

Can Bellingham maintain the steam?

Jude Bellingham’s dip in form towards the end of the season raised many concerns in the Real Madrid offices over his fitness and physical state. A mini ‘pre-season’ was said to be in the manager’s plan, especially keeping Bellingham’s recovery in mind.

The young midfielder, however, started the team’s game against Deportivo Alaves once more despite rumours of him being rested and dished out a classic on the night. His performance, in many senses, was one that announced his return to form.

In 90 minutes against Alaves, Bellingham scored one goal and provided two assists as the game ended 5-0 in Real Madrid’s favour.

Furthermore, the former Borussia Dortmund star recorded a staggering 121 touches, 99 passes, six key passes and created one big chance. He also completed four dribbles on the night and participated in eight defensive actions.

It thus becomes a serious question ahead of tomorrow’s clash as to how Carlo Ancelotti plans on managing Bellingham’s minutes.

The obvious approach would be to field the youngster from the start and reward his improved performance at the weekend. Concurrently, however, there is concern over the midfielder being overused which inhibits the manager from such a move.

Will Bellingham start against Villarreal or will the likes of Brahim Diaz or Arda Guler get a deserved start? Only time will tell.

Lunin’s heroic exit

Thibaut Courtois’ injury before the commencement of the new season left Real Madrid with a crisis in goal. The repercussions of the blow, however, were not as dire as expected courtesy of Andriy Lunin’s exceptional performances.

Lunin could play his final game of the season vs Villarreal. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Despite starting the campaign behind Kepa Arrizabalaga on the pecking order, the Ukrainian international has done enough to become the team’s primary goalkeeper across all competitions.

Only Courtois’ return last month displaced him from the starting lineup as the manager prioritised bringing the Belgian superstar back to full fitness.

Real Madrid now plan on starting Courtois for the big UCL final at Wembley next month.

While unfair on Lunin who deserves the start, one cannot blame Ancelotti for relying on the player who single-handedly kept the team in the game the last time they featured in a European final.

With Courtois set to start against Real Betis and Borrusia Dortmund, tomorrow could well be Lunin’s final game of the season for Real Madrid and the 25-year-old will look to depart with a bang.

Momentum is paramount

Real Madrid have already been crowned the champions of La Liga, and every game that remains in the competition at this point only serves as a practice encounter for the big challenge that lies ahead.

Los Blancos take on Borussia Dortmund in the finale of the UCL early next month, and only two games remain before the season-defining encounter. A lot, needless to say, will depend on how Ancelotti manages his squad for the two matches that lie ahead.

Considering that the calendar is no longer as hectic as it was a month ago, the manager could well field his best XI against Villarreal aiming to keep the momentum going for his side. After all, it is paramount at this stage in the season.

At the same time, however, the manager must rotate his squad ahead to give fringe players some deserved minutes and balance the playing time of regular starters.

Los Blancos, at this point, are unbeaten in 23 games across all competitions and have the momentum fairly on their side. Maintaining it with a positive result tomorrow irrespective of the final decision on the extent of rotations will thus be crucial for the Merengues.

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