Real Madrid’s clash against Atletico Madrid may not have produced the result that Carlo Ancelotti hoped. However, the fact remains that Los Blancos deserved all three points on the night and were at their very best in possession-play on the night.
Their one clear standout player on the night was Brahim Diaz. The youngster came into the starting lineup as a last-minute replacement for the injured Vinicius Jr, yet dropped one of the best individual performances of the season in Spain.
National Team drama
While his fight for minutes at Real Madrid is arguably the biggest storyline in Diaz’s story, a parallel and equally fascinating one is that of his international future.
As a player with options to represent both Spain and Morocco, Diaz has seen both sides trade blows for his incorporation.
Despite coming close to joining the African side, he finally backed out and decided that the Spanish side would be better for his future.
Now, the manager of La Roja, Luis de la Fuente, has openly admitted that the Real Madrid star is not far away from a call-up to the National Team before praising his quality.
“Brahim Diaz has all the options to be in the national team. He is a very good player and I know him well. He is highly regarded in his club.”
“For me, I hope he and the other players continue to play at this level. Because it is good for them, their clubs and the national team,” he added.
It has been clear from the very beginning that the Spanish midfielder’s fight for minutes is not down to his quality but the sheer number of options at Ancelotti’s disposal.
Despite playing a critical role against Atletico Madrid last weekend, it remains to be seen if Diaz is given a start against Girona later this week.
After all, Jude Bellingham is the bonafide starter in his natural position while Vinicius Jr, whom he replaced in the last clash, is back fit.
If Diaz is to start, his only option would be to replace Rodyrgo Goes in the final third. However, that may not sit well from a tactical perspective.
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.