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Three talking points ahead of Alaves vs Real Madrid | La Liga

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Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid’s 18th game of the league campaign sees them take the trip from Madrid to Vitoria-Gasteiz. They take on Deportivo Alaves at the Estadio de Mendizorozza, a stadium where they have enjoyed reasonable success in recent years.

Luis Garcia’s men currently sit fourteenth on the league standings with just four wins and four draws after seventeen games. They enter the clash against Real Madrid off the back of two straight losses and are far from their best.

Yet, Real Madrid are in a world of pain of their own. The team, plagued by injuries, is walking on crutches and will hope to get past the latest test unscathed.

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

The ACL fiasco

Real Madrid are cursed. There could be no more logical explanation for the cascade of injuries that has hit the Spanish capital club in recent months.

To lose three players to ACL injuries in the same season is close to unheard of. Yet, Los Blancos are sailing that very boat after David Alaba’s latest injury.

The Austrian international went down midway through the first half against Villarreal in clear pain, and it instantly looked like it was a serious blow Real Madrid would have to deal with.

Real Madrid are now in a situation where Carlo Ancelotti does not have his two starting defenders for the foreseeable future. Nacho Fernandez and Antonio Rudiger are his only remaining options at centre-back, and it is clear that the Merengues are treading a tight-rope.

The Spanish-German combination is expected to start in defence tomorrow night, but it would not be surprising to see Aurelien Tchouameni taking over at some point in the game.

Further, there could be some surprises springing up from the academy considering that Raul Asencio has been called up by the manager.

Nearing the light

Some of the injured players will return after the Christmas break. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

David Alaba’s injury may be the latest blow on Real Madrid’s long list of injuries. Yet, it is clear that the manager has other positions of priority where he also lacks first-choice players for fitness reasons.

Aurelien Tchouameni returned from the sidelines in Real Madrid’s last outing, handing his manager a key boost in midfield. The situation will only improve after the Christmas break.

As confirmed by Ancelotti Dani Carvajal, Eduardo Camavinga, and Arda Guler are all expected to return to the squad after the mid-season break, while Vinicius Jr. is also recovering well. With the quartet set to take to the turf again soon, tomorrow’s clash could well be Ancelotti’s final test with multiple handicaps.

Real Madrid have not allowed the difficult situation to dictate any terms on their season thus far. The men in white have held their own in the league race and did not drop a single point in the UEFA Champions League group stage as well.

The game against Alaves can thus be seen as one final push before seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Signing off on a high

Real Madrid are fighting neck to neck for the lead in La Liga this season, albeit not with their traditional rivals Barcelona or Atletico Madrid.

With every passing matchday, Girona prove that their position as league leaders is not down to any form of luck but a pure combination of good form, a positive dynamic, and an undying mentality.

The Catalan club currently sit on a staggering 44 points after 17 games. They have lost only one game all season, their clash against Real Madrid, and look set to enter the new year with the lead intact.

Real Madrid’s focus, thus, must remain on the short term. There is not much they can do to derail Girona’s campaign until the two sides face off later this season. As it stands, all that remains in their hands is to keep their good run of form alive.

Facing fourteenth-placed Alaves, Ancelotti’s men will look to finish 2023 on a high. The year may not have been memorable for them in the first half, but their start to the new season has been impeccable and it is only right that they keep it going.

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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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