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Three Real Madrid superstars feature in L’Equipe’s Team of the Year for 2022

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

As we get set to enter into the final week of 2022, French publication L’Equipe have announced their Team of the Year. And as many as three current Real Madrid superstars have made it to the lineup.

2022 was a largely successful year for Los Blancos as they started off with the Spanish Super Cup before getting their hands on the La Liga title and the UEFA Champions League. At the start of the current season, Carlo Ancelotti & co. also won the UEFA Super Cup.

In terms of individual accolades, Karim Benzema won his first-ever Ballon d’Or award earlier this year while Thibaut Courtois was awarded the Yashin Trophy for the Best Goalkeeper.

So, it should not come as a surprise that both Benzema and Courtois find a place in L’Equipe’s Team of the Year for 2022.

The third Real Madrid player to make it to the team is midfield mainstay Luka Modric, who continues to age like fine wine. Despite turning 37, the veteran superstar remains a pivotal cog in Ancelotti’s side and played a huge role in the success that the team saw this year.

On top of that, Modric also led the Croatian national team to the semi-finals and a third-place finish at the FIFA World Cup 2022, winning the Bronze Ball in the process.

Meanwhile, Modric’s former midfield partner, Casemiro, who was also integral to last season’s trophy haul at Real Madrid also finds a place in the Team of the Year for 2022. The Brazilian left the club this past summer to sign for Manchester United, where he has again become a key player.

L’Equipe’s Team of the Year for 2022 (Photo Courtesy: L’Equipe)

As for the rest of the team, Kyle Walker of Manchester City is selected at right-back while Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and RB Leipzig star Josko Gvardiol, a target for Real Madrid, are the centre-backs. Ex-Real Madrid man Theo Hernandez, who won the Serie A title with AC Milan gets the nod at left-back.

Modric and Casemiro make up the central midfield and are partnered by Manchester City superstar Kevin De Bruyne, who has had another flawless year, along with World Cup winner Lionel Messi, who also won the Golden Ball at the tournament.

Up top, it is Benzema with fellow Frenchman Kylian Mbappe, who won the Golden Boot at the World Cup, scoring a magnificent hat-trick in the final.

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Real Madrid News

Ancelotti’s dilemma: How will he handle a fully fit defense next season?

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Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid’s manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is set to face a challenging situation in restructuring his defence for the upcoming season and that is largely down to key players like David Alaba and Eder Militao are returning to full fitness. 

Interestingly, this situation might put Antonio Rudiger’s spot in the starting lineup under significant pressure.

Back when Rudiger joined Real Madrid he was supposed to strengthen a defence already featuring Alaba and Militao. Despite their young age, these two had firmly established themselves in the team. 

Over the past two years, however, Ancelotti has consistently relied on the duo, with Rudiger and Nacho serving as their main substitutes. 

A big decision awaits Ancelotti

As the new season approaches, Ancelotti faces a dilemma similar to the one he had with goalkeepers Andriy Lunin and Thibaut Courtois. A similar situation is likely to unfold with Rudiger and Militao vying for the right centre-back position.

It must be remembered that Militao suffered an untimely injury last season, prompting Ancelotti to choose Rudiger over Nacho, who, although right-footed, is also adept on the left side. 

Carlo Ancelotti needs to assess his defensive duo for next season. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

As the season progressed, Rudiger proved his worth, becoming a mainstay in the defense. His physical strength, bravery, and aerial prowess made him a reliable choice. 

His ability to play out from the back earned him the respect and confidence of his teammates, overshadowing Militao’s absence.

Rudiger’s importance has grown

Rudiger’s importance grew further when Alaba got injured in December. He became the cornerstone of the defence, often partnering with Nacho or Aurelien Tchouameni. Even when Rudiger played on the left side, the defensive structure remained solid.

When Militao returned in the last month and a half of the season, he struggled to regain his previous form. The long recovery period left emotional scars, and he was not the same player he had been before the injury. 

Consequently, Ancelotti opted to keep Rudiger in the lineup for crucial matches towards the end of the season.

With the new season on the horizon, Rudiger’s strong performances will present a significant challenge for Ancelotti. 

As Alaba also returns from injury, Ancelotti will have to decide who among Rudiger, Militao, and Alaba will be benched. 

Rudiger has proven his capability, often outperforming the Brazilian, whose post-injury form is still uncertain. 

Adding to the competition, Real Madrid might sign Leni Yoro and even Rafa Marin could return from his loan spell which could further complicate Ancelotti’s decisions.

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