Real Madrid will be aiming to make it to the finals of the Spanish Super Cup when they face off against Valencia in the semi-finals tonight at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The current holders of the trophy, Los Blancos enter the tournament on the back of a disappointing loss to Villarreal in La Liga and will be keen to bounce back strongly with a resounding victory.
However, Gennaro Gattuso’s men have what it takes to make life difficult for the reigning champions of Spain and Europe when the two teams collide later tonight to battle for a place in the final against Barcelona or Real Betis.
Ahead of the crunch tie in Riyadh, Madrid Universal predicts how Carlo Ancelotti might set his team out against Los Che.
Thibaut Courtois has been a crucial presence at the back for Real Madrid and will continue under the woodwork against Valencia in the Super Cup semi-finals ahead of Andriy Lunin.
Dani Carvajal, who has recovered from his injury, is set to return to the lineup to slot in at right-back.
It should allow Eder Militao to move back to his natural centre-back position, after playing on the right side against Villarreal. With David Alaba ruled out for three weeks due to an injury, Antonio Rudiger becomes the automatic pick as Militao’s partner.
Ferland Mendy missed training yesterday and is a doubt for the match due to muscle overload. Nacho Fernandez should get the nod at left-back in that case, although Eduardo Camavinga could be an option for Ancelotti.
Aurelien Tchouameni is another notable injury-related absentee for Real Madrid. The Frenchman has been a permanent fixture in the No. 6 role this season and in his absence Toni Kroos should move into the deepest midfield position against Valencia.
The German international will have support in the middle of the park from fellow veteran star Luka Modric and Uruguayan ace Federico Valverde, who was reportedly considering his future at Real Madrid before changing his mind after his exploits in the Super Cup.
With Valverde moving into midfield, Rodrygo Goes should get drafted into the starting XI on the right flank, while Vinicius Jr is a guaranteed starter on the left. The two Brazilian forwards will have an important role to essay on the night.
Meanwhile, club captain Karim Benzema will spearhead the attack for Real Madrid.
Vinicius · Benzema · Rodrygo
Modric · Kroos · Valverde
Nacho · Alaba · Militao · Carvajal
Eduardo Camavinga has carved out a reputation for being an impact substitute and will certainly be called upon from the bench if he does not start against Valencia tonight. Marco Asensio is another player who is likely to get some minutes on the pitch for Real Madrid.
Ancelotti might even look at Dani Ceballos as an option to shut up shop in the latter stages of the game should Real Madrid be in a comfortable position. Meanwhile, Lucas Vazquez could replace Carvajal considering that the latter is just returning from an injury.
Tchouameni, Camavinga start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against Mallorca
Real Madrid will be hoping to cut down the gap to league leaders Barcelona to two points when they face RCD Mallorca at Son Moix on Sunday afternoon.
Los Blancos enjoy a superior record against Javier Aguirre’s side, but have had missteps of late. Meanwhile, Mallorca have won three of their last four matches at home and will pose a stern test to Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
Things will be made even more complicated for the reigning Spanish champions as they will have to make do without club captain and ace goalscorer Karim Benzema. Eder Militao, who had been in top form recently, is also out with an injury, as are Ferland Mendy and Eden Hazard.
It will be an important match for the Merengues if they wish to keep up the pressure on their rivals Barcelona. Ahead of this encounter, Madrid Universal takes a look at how Ancelotti might set his team up on Sunday afternoon.
There is just no looking past Thibaut Courtois in goal for Real Madrid. The Belgian has been a consistent and key performer for the champions and will again be crucial if they are to return with three points from Mallorca.
Dani Carvajal made his return from injury in the midweek win against Valencia, coming on from the bench. While David Alaba is back and available, Ancelotti could avoid risking him against Mallorca so that he is fit for the FIFA Club World Cup next week.
As such Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez should form the centre-back pairing for Los Blancos, whereas Eduardo Camavinga should continue in the makeshift left-back role that he has essayed in the past couple of matches.
Moving into the middle of the park, Ancelotti will likely look to reintroduce Aurelien Tchouameni into the starting XI after the midfielder made his return from injury against Valencia.
The 23-year-old Frenchman will slot in as the No. 6 while in-form star Dani Ceballos and Luka Modric could occupy the remaining two spots in midfield. Toni Kroos, who picked up a knock in the previous match, will likely be protected for the Club World Cup.
Benzema’s absence means Rodrygo Goes becomes the obvious choice to line up as the No. 9 against Mallorca. Meanwhile, Vinicius Jr and Marco Asensio, who were the goalscorers for Real Madrid against Valencia, should continue occupying the flanks.
Vinicius · Rodrygo · Asensio
Ceballos · Tchouameni · Modric
Camavinga · Nacho · Rudiger · Carvajal
Federico Valverde will be an option from the bench for Ancelotti to tweak the attack, given that there are no other natural forwards in the squad for tomorrow’s game, apart from the out-of-favour Mariano Diaz.
David Alaba will likely receive some minutes off the bench so that he gets some action under his belt heading into the FIFA Club World Cup. The same should hold for Toni Kroos, who has recovered from the knock he sustained against Valencia.
Jesus Vallejo or Alvaro Odriozola might get a few minutes in case Real Madrid are in the lead and Ancelotti is looking to shut up shop.