Three talking points ahead of Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid
With three points already in the bag, Real Madrid head into their second game of the season amidst an ocean of uncertainty. The transfer market has thrown some big surprises in Los Blancos‘ way but the season must move on unfazed.
Pitted against Celta Vigo, Ancelotti will have his work cut out on Saturday night. The Galicians conceded a 98th-minute equaliser from Espanyol and had to settle for one point in their league opener. Needless to say, they will be thirsty for their first win, given that the game is at Balaidos.
The manager has critical decisions to take on the night, especially in midfield. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of the anticipated clash on Saturday night.
1. The culmination of a special relationship
Carlos Henrique Jose Francisco Venancio Casimiro, famously known just as ‘Casemiro’ has been one of Real Madrid’s most special players since his arrival in 2013. During his tenure at the Santiago Bernabeu, the midfielder earned a reputation for being the best in the world in his position.
Quality defensive midfielders are hard to come by in the transfer market. Having the best CDM in the business was undoubtedly a boon for Real Madrid’s midfield.
During his special bond with the club that lasted almost ten years, the Brazilian won it all. Five Champions League trophies, three La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey, amongst other accolades, just go to show that he was a serial winner.
Just as all good things come to an end, his spell with Real Madrid, too, has finally culminated.
The player is set to sign for Manchester United, and a complete agreement has been reached between the two clubs. Moreover, he has been excluded from the squad facing Celta Vigo.
Los Blancos have lost many legends in this transfer window, from Gareth Bale to Marcelo. Yet, it is safe to say that Casemiro will be missed the most.
Not only is this the end of the player’s relationship with the club, but it also calls curtains on their special midfield trio. The world may never see another set of three players rule the middle of the park like Casemiro did with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.
Real Madrid’s clash against Celta Vigo will be their first without the Brazilian as they prepare to venture into a new era. Ancelotti has options on the bench to compensate for Casemiro’s position physically, but it will be difficult to cope with the loss of experience.
2. Can Tchouameni make the most of his chance?
It is rightly said that every end is a new beginning. While the club mull over the departure of their legendary defensive midfielder, one must not forget that Real Madrid already have his replacement in place.
Aurelien Tchouameni is considered to be one of world football’s brightest talents in defensive midfield and was signed as a long-term replacement for Casemiro.
One would have imagined that the Frenchman would find it difficult to see minutes in his first season at the club. Ancelotti planned to rotate the two players this year, but everything now changes with the veteran’s move to Manchester United.
For better or worse, all eyes will now be on Tchouameni. The question is whether he will shine under pressure or crumble.
In theory, the youngster promises a more dynamic profile than his predecessor. His comfort on the ball, ability to carry the buildup into advanced positions and his defensive awareness make him the complete package.
It is now time for him to convert the theory into results. The 22-year-old could well be the team’s regular starting defensive midfielder this season and will see no shortage of minutes.
His journey will begin on Saturday night when Los Blancos take on Celta Vigo. Needless to say, he will have to work hard against the experienced setup of Fran Beltran, Iago Aspas and Oscar Rodriguez.
3. Spotlight on the forward line
While Ancelotti’s men got off to a winning start to La Liga, their performance against UD Almeria was far from convincing. The team seemed disjointed, sluggish and unconvincing on the night.
The forwards suffered against Rubi’s men, scoring just two goals from their 29 shots. Ultimately, it was a wonder free-kick from David Alaba that secured three points against the newly promoted side.
Karim Benzema was particularly underwhelming at Estadio del Mediterraneo, as he managed just three shots on the night. He was woeful in front of the goal and missed three big chances.
The defending champions will have to be more clinical in the final third if they are to beat the Galicians this weekend.
Celta Vigo are known to be lethal on the counter and have a reputation for stepping up on the big nights. Needless to say, the captain must step up and lead from the front.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place
Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.
The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.
Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.
1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?
The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.
An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.
The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.
Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.
In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.
It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.
2. A day of farewells
Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.
Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.
With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.
The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.
Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.
3. A tight race for second place
There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.
Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.
Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.
With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.