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Three talking points ahead of Girona vs Real Madrid



Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Less than 72 hours after their 2-0 win over Celta Vigo, Real Madrid are forced to take to the field again midweek. This time, however, it is for a league clash and not the usual midweek Champions League or Copa del Rey game.

The hectic schedule leaves players with little to no rest ahead of games and the situation is now getting worrying for the European Champions. Thus, the onus will be on Ancelotti to make the most of his man-management skills and rotate his troops effectively.

The manager will not have a full-strength squad at his disposal on Tuesday and must look to shuffle his cards appropriately so as to not compromise on quality. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Girona vs Real Madrid.

1. The list of five and a half

Real Madrid travel to Estadi Montilivi to take on Girona midweek with some of the biggest stars unavailable. Five players have failed to make the trip, and there is the peculiar case of a midfielder who will be available but won’t play a role on the night.

Eden Hazard’s serious injury in training has his immediate future in doubt but the Belgian’s absence will play no major part in Carlo Ancelotti’s plans. The other, absentees, on the other hand, will be significant.

Karim Benzema is the second player left out of the list after suffering a mild overload and is expected to return for Los Blancos’ clash against Almeria. Thus, the Italian tactician will be without the services of his only centre-forward and will have to look for alternate sources for goals.

David Alaba and Ferland Mendy are the other two players who will be unavailable at Montilivi for the La Liga clash. Both players have been prey to repeated injuries this term and have both suffered relapses recently

The final player who has not been called up to the squad, albeit out of compulsion, is Dani Ceballos. The Spaniard is not nursing any setbacks but faces a one-game suspension on the night for an accumulation of yellow cards.

The list of five extends to five-and-a-half with Eduardo Camavinga. Though the Frenchman made the squad to travel to Girona, Ancelotti had earlier revealed that the midfielder is carrying an injury, thus his availability remains uncertain.

2. Adios La Liga?

Barcelona defeated Atletico on Sunday. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Barcelona’s clash against Atletico Madrid at the weekend was perhaps their most difficult game of the remainder of the campaign. Thus, it also turned out to be the best chance for Real Madrid to cut their deficit to Xavi Hernandez’s side and open the league race open.

The game at Spotify Camp Nou, however, ended 1-0 in favour of the hosts and handed Atletico Madrid their first defeat in 14 league games. With the Blaugranas past their most difficult hurdle now, it would be safe to declare Real Madrid’s title race closed.

Thirty games into La Liga, the Merengues sit on 65 points with just five losses. Barcelona, on the other hand, have 76 points to their name and boast a dominating 11-point advantage.

24 points remain to be played for in the competition. However, the Catalans would have to lose four of their next eight games for Real Madrid to even come close to taking the lead and that looks unlikely given their schedule ahead.

With La Liga thus unofficially out of the equation, Carlo Ancelotti can now completely focus his resources on the two fronts that matter – the UEFA Champions League and the Copa del Rey. Any league game from this point is not worth much more than a practice game.

3. Third time lucky?

Girona sit in 11th place on the league standings this season. Of their 30 games so far, they have won just ten and lost twelve times and are thus on 38 points. Michel’s side may be just eight points clear of relegation but their recent record against Real Madrid paints a different picture.

Girona have not lost to Real Madrid in their last two meetings and have even won on one of the two occasions. When the two teams met back in 2019, the Catalan outfit won by a scoreline of 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Girona managed to hold the Merengues to a draw earlier this season at the Bernabeu again and head into Tuesday’s clash high on confidence. After all, they held league leaders Barcelona to a draw earlier this month.

Will it be the third time lucky for Real Madrid or will Carlo Ancelotti’s altered priorities see the defending champions drop points? Only time will tell.

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Three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid



Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Real Valladolid was far from convincing. They may have been the more effective side, but the Merengues were far from being the better team against Andoni Iraola’s men.

Saturday brings with it the team’s penultimate game of the campaign as Real Madrid take on Sevilla. The Andalusian side have not been impressive in La Liga this season but have always been one to turn up against the big teams. Tomorrow’s game is expected to be no different.

Carlo Ancelotti is expected to make drastic changes ahead of kickoff, especially given the incomplete squad travelling for the game. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid.

1. Final game on the road

The 2022-23 season has flown by in the blink of an eye. It may have been a rocky campaign and could have ended with better results, but there is a feeling that the squad has a lot to take away from the season as it is.

From the highs of completing a special Copa del Rey comeback win over Barcelona to the lows of losing three successive Clasicos, the men in white have seen it all. As the season now approaches the curtain-closing phase, Carlo Ancelotti and his men will be eager for a strong finish.

Sunday night will see the Merengues‘ final away game of the season as they travel to Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan to take on Sevilla. The 2021-22 champions have not had the best of seasons on the road in La Liga this season and a statement finish would go a long way in boosting the morale.

Sevilla have been far from their best this campaign domestically. Though they are well placed to taste glory in the UEFA Europa League once again, they languish in tenth place on the league standings with just 13 wins in 36 games.

Los Blancos boast a fine record at Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and are unbeaten at the stadium in their last eight appearances. Their last defeat at the venue came back in 2018, and the objective tonight will be to extend the aforementioned streak.

2. Tchouameni’s point to prove

Point to prove. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

As much as Aurelien Tchouameni’s initial months at the club were called paradise, the Frenchman has not had life easy at Real Madrid in his first season.

The Frenchman initially stepped in as a more than able replacement for Casemiro in the middle of the park. His astute reading of the game and defensive awareness made him a monster in midfield and his position in the starting lineup appeared safe.

Tchouameni’s situation, however, took a steep turn after the FIFA World Cup. Coming back from a fatiguing World Cup and a minor niggle, the defensive midfielder no longer found his name on the starting lineup as he became second fiddle to Eduardo Camavinga.

The entry of Toni Kroos as an option for the pivot role further reduced the Frenchman’s involvement.

The youngster thus has a point to prove on Sunday night. He is expected to start at the Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and will look to orchestrate the team’s play from deep in midfield whilst holding the fortress simultaneously. After all, it could be his final chance to prove his worth ahead of the new season.

3. Only three forwards

Real Madrid’s squad list only names three forwards making the trip to Seville to take on Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side – Rodrygo Goes, Eden Hazard, and Alvaro Rodriguez.

The manager does have a fourth option in Federico Valverde and could look to mix and match his options on the night. However, Carlo Ancelotti maintained a low profile on the starting lineup ahead of Sunday’s clash, especially when asked about Eden Hazard’s chances of participating.

Given that it is the team’s penultimate game of the season, Ancelotti could well look to start all three pure forwards on the night. After all, each has their own special reason to participate.

For Hazard, the game against Sevilla could well be his final away game in a Real Madrid shirt. The Belgian is reluctant to leave the club at the moment, but everything could change in June if he begins to attract interest.

In Alvaro Rodriguez’s case, tomorrow’s game presents itself as an audition to seal a place in next season’s dynamics. The youngster has impressed whenever given the chance so far and will look to keep his high level going.

Rodrygo Goes, arguably, needs the game the least of the three candidates. Yet, with Ancelotti publicly asking him to take more prominence, he has a point to prove.

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