Jude Bellingham has been at the centre of both of Real Madrid’s wins in La Liga this season. The youngster was not only on the scoresheet on both nights but also the best player on the field by some distance.
The Merengues now stare their next challenge in the eye. They face Celta de Vigo on Friday night at Municipal de Balaidos in a game that will not be easy by any measure.
After all, the Galicians have been known for being giant slayers for a long time.
Rafael Benitez’s side are yet to register a win in La Liga this season. They lost their opening game to Osasuna and could only manage a draw against Real Sociedad last weekend.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid.
A new face in goal
Having lost Thibaut Courtois to a long-term injury in preseason, Real Madrid found themselves in neck-deep water.
Ancelotti reaffirmed his faith in the young Ukrainian shot-stopper, Andriy Lunin, and gave him starts against Athletic Club and Almeria. However, it was always clear that Lunin would not be the first-choice goalkeeper throughout the season.
During his press conference today, Ancelotti confirmed that the team’s new signing Kepa Arrizabalaga would start for Los Blancos against Celta Vigo. It will be a special moment for the Spaniard, for it will be his debut for the club.
Once regarded amongst La Liga’s best keepers during his time at Athletic Club, Kepa’s career took a downward spiral after his €80 million move to Chelsea.
A series of errors in high-profile games stripped him of his starting tag, but he did manage to redeem himself at the club over the past few months.
Returning to La Liga on a season-long loan, Kepa will be more motivated than ever to regain his best form. After all, the Spanish league was where he carved a reputation for himself as an elite player.
Is it finally Modric’s moment?
Real Madrid have no dearth of resources in the middle of the park. The spread of options at Ancelotti’s disposal varies from the relatively untested young Arda Guler to the seasoned Luka Modric.
Given that the club is in transition, Ancelotti has opted to go for a larger number of youngsters in his starting lineup this season.
Aurelien Tchouameni has been the mainstay in defensive midfield, while Jude Bellingham has been the second immovable cog in the middle of the park playing as an attacking midfielder.
The two central midfield places were occupied by Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde in the season curtain raiser while Toni Kroos and Valverde manned it in the second game.
Luka Modric, quite clearly, is the one hard done by the Italian coach’s selection. He played just 28 minutes in two games so far and created two big chances in the short duration.
Earlier today, reports stated that Modric hopes to start against Celta Vigo at Balaidos after being benched for two successive games. It will thus be interesting to see if, and how, Ancelotti opts to utilise the veteran’s services.
Three on the trot
Beginning the season with the luxury of playing in front of one’s own fans is a fortune only half the teams in La Liga can enjoy. Real Madrid, unfortunately, was not a part of the favoured half.
Los Blancos started their campaign at San Mames against the mighty Athletic Club. Their second game showed little respite as well, for they were forced to travel to the Power Horse Stadium to take on Almeria.
The ruthless schedule on the road continues for Los Blancos as they now travel to Municipal de Balaidos to take on Galician kings Celta de Vigo.
Having three consecutive games away from home at the start of a new season is not a manager’s best dream. However, Ancelotti must oversee one final game away from the Santiago Bernabeu before his men head back home for two matchdays.
Constant travel and associated fatigue could thus play a role in Friday night’s game, although one would not expect too much of an influence so early in the season.
Nevertheless, capping off the first away wing with a victory would be the best foundation before beginning the home saga of the season.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Las Palmas | La Liga
The heartbreak at Civitas Metropolitano saw Real Madrid drop down to third on the La Liga standings for the first time this season. They now sit on 15 points from six games, only one point behind leaders Barcelona.
Yet, there is barely time for the team to recover. Less than 72 hours after their defeat, the Merengues play host to Las Palmas in the seventh Matchday of La Liga in a tricky fixture.
Garcia Pimienta’s side have improved leaps and bounds in recent times, although their start to the new season has been far from positive.
Las Palmas were winless in their first five league games but picked up a first win in their most recent outing against Granada.
With the visitors coming off their first win and the hosts their first loss, it will be interesting to see how the game of momentum plays out.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Wednesday’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu.
The important reaction
Having secured six wins in six games under their belt, the threat of breaking the moment was always lurking around the corner from Real Madrid. After all, their wins to that point were not always convincing.
Jude Bellingham’s magic, Joselu’s constant threat and the talented midfield helped Los Blancos on their way to scrappy wins over the weeks. Yet, it was always glaringly clear that they had deficiencies in defence and the final third.
All of Real Madrid’s troubles came to the forefront on Sunday and were left glaringly exposed. The end result was a defeat that left a bitter taste in the mouths of players and fans.
Despite facing their first setback of the season, however, the men in white have no time to lament. After all, the hectic schedule leaves them little time between games.
It is thus of utmost importance that Real Madrid does not slip into a vicious state of negative momentum. As they face off against Las Palmas midweek, Carlo Ancelotti’s side needs a strong and dominant win to keep spirits high.
Considering that they will be back at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid will be the favourites by far on the night. Nevertheless, there will be pressure on the players to take all three points.
Limelight on the manager
The aftermath of the defeat to Atletico Madrid sent ripples through the Spanish media. It was reported that the Real Madrid board was not entirely happy with the list of ‘sins’ committed by Ancelotti in the clash at Civitas Metropolitano.
It thus goes without saying that the limelight will be on the manager on Wednesday.
For starters, the Italian gaffer must get the starting lineup right and not go overboard with his rotations. Aurelien Tchouameni is a must for the Merengues’ defensive efforts and must be introduced back into the lineup midweek.
Moreover, there will be pressure on him to revert to the winning 4-4-2 diamond formation featuring two natural forwards including a striker.
With Joselu returning to the lineup, Jude Bellingham must shift back to his more comfortable attacking midfield role.
Moreover, the manager must strike the right balance between youth and experience, for both Toni Kroos and Luka Modric can no longer start together.
Perhaps the most important job Ancelotti is faced with, however, is in defence. Both David Alaba and Antonio Rudiger appeared lost in the last game, and it remains to be seen if the manager ropes Nacho Fernandez in to strike a better dynamic.
Return of the magician
While Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao are amongst Real Madrid’s most valuable players, it is Vinicius Jr’s injury that hit the club the hardest.
The Merengues unfortunately have a very thin and fragile forward line this season with just three players competing for two spots. Of the three names, Vinicius is the single most important one.
The Brazilian star may not have started the 2023-24 season at his optimal level considering his altered role in the new formation. Yet, he is the Merengues’ most lethal weapon to break open defences and create chances.
The men in white have had problems since the Selecao star hobbled off the field injured against Celta Vigo.
Their games against Getafe and Union Berlin were both down to last-gasp winners, while the defeat to Atletico Madrid showed everything wrong with the team.
Vinicius Jr is set to make his return in tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu, and there could be no better news for Ancelotti.