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’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.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Granada | La Liga
Napoli fought tooth and nail for all three points against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this week. They took the early lead in the first half, then fought back to find an equaliser after Real Madrid put two past them.
In the end, however, they were outdone by the hosts’ resilience and never-say-die attitude. The result thus registered Real Madrid’s fourth win on the trot and twelfth game without a defeat.
The men in white must now look ahead to their next La Liga game scheduled to kick off in just over 24 hours. Faced against Granada in a critical matchday, the aim will be to take all three points and thus maintain a healthy position in the standings.
Ancelotti announced some key recoveries in his pre-match press conference and also confirmed that Jude Bellingham would be fit to participate on the evening. Yet, he is concurrently in a difficult moment in terms of squad fitness.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Granada vs Real Madrid.
A clash of two poles
While Ancelotti’s Real Madrid sit lavishly on the top of La Liga’s standings, their opponents for Saturday afternoon have quite a contrasting fate. Granada sit on the other end of the league table and find themselves in a desolate situation 14 match days into the season.
Granada are currently 19th in La Liga with just one win in 14 games, and have changed managers, with Alexander Medina replacing Paco Lopez. They have lost a staggering nine games and walked away with one point on four occasions.
Granada have only scored 19 goals all season while conceding on 33 occasions. Comparing the numbers to Real Madrid’s 31 goals scored and nine goals conceded speaks volumes about the form of both teams heading into tomorrow’s clash.
The visitors’ last win in La Liga came back in August, and it is safe to say that a victory vs Real Madrid will do them a world of good. They will be the underdogs at the Bernabeu, but nothing is impossible considering that they drew with Barcelona not so long ago.
Saturday’s clash will thus be interesting, to say the least. With the injury-inflicted league leaders taking on a relegation-threatened side, the script cannot be predicted.
The rising phenomenon
Real Madrid’s injury crisis has not been easy on the manager. Ancelotti has been forced to rework his dynamics time and time again with a new player falling prey to the endless pit in every game.
The Italian is now in a situation where he has only four players left in the middle of the park. Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, and Dani Ceballos all started Real Madrid’s last game but it was young Nico Paz who stole the headlines.
The youngster has risen to prominence in Los Blancos’ latest injury emergency and his prominence has only increased over the past weeks. In the team’s latest outing against Napoli, he was on the field for close to half an hour and scored a crucial goal in the 84th minute.
With a tight schedule ahead and limited resources at his disposal, Ancelotti must look to rotate his men in midfield. Paz, on that front, is the Italian gaffer’s best choice and must look to make the most of his minutes tomorrow.
The golden chance
The biggest talking point from La Liga so far has been Girona’s stunning run at the beginning of the season. The Catalan side surprised everyone with win after win and stole the headlines by retaining the sole lead in the league until match day 13.
After six straight wins, Athletic Club broke Girona’s streak last weekend with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Estadi Montilivi. Having dropped two points, they are now level with Real Madrid in the standings with 35 points in 14 games.
It will thus be Ancelotti’s objective to take all three points against Granada and make a strong push towards taking the lead over Girona. After all, the co-leaders face a difficult opponent in Valencia and could well drop points.
Moreover, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are set to face off later this weekend. One, or both of the Spanish giants will drop points on the night, thus giving Real Madrid further impetus to gun for all three points tomorrow.
Considering the team’s good run of form in recent games, the dressing room will be confident about securing the much-needed result.