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Three talking points ahead of Rayo Vallecano vs Real Madrid

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Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid travel downtown to Estadio de Vallecas late on Monday night to take on Rayo Vallecano in their penultimate clash before the World Cup. After securing just one point in their last league outing, the men in white will be desperate to get back to winning ways.

Their opponents on the night are placed ninth on the league standings with five wins in twelve games. They are just one win away from contesting directly for a spot in European football and pose a real threat to Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

The manager welcomes back some key players from injury but will also be without some of his veteran stars on the night. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid’s clash gainst Rayo Vallecano.

1. It’s Tchouameni time again

Aurelien Tchoumeni has been a standout performer for Real Madrid since his arrival in the summer, quickly adapting to life in Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti’s ideologies.

The French midfielder did not take long to hit the ground running at his new club as he cemented his place as a starter in the team within a month of his arrival. He not only nullified the after-effects of Casemiro’s departure but went one step ahead by providing a more complete profile to his predecessor.

However, Tchouameni was not available for selection in both of Real Madrid’s last two games through injury. After spending over a week on the sidelines, he will be available to the manager when the men in white take on Rayo Vallecano and is expected to start on the night.

Toni Kroos will miss the trip to Vallecas through suspension, meaning that Tchouameni’s role will be more pronounced on the night. He is expected to start alongside Luka Modric and Federico Valverde, though the latter could be pushed to the final third with Eduardo Camavinga taking his place.

The youngster has a massive two months ahead of him as he is the chosen one to replace N’Golo Kante in the starting lineup of the French National team at the FIFA World Cup. With the biggest tournament of his professional career less than two weeks away, he will look to utilise the next two games to get back into his zone and a good match rhythm.

2. Another game without a centre-forward

2022 is a year Karim Benzema can never forget, for it represents the year in which he was officially crowned the best football player on the planet. Yet, his start to the 22-23 season will not be something he looks upon half as proudly at.

The veteran striker last started Los Blancos‘ clash against Elche and even scored on the night. However, he played less than half an hour against Celtic and missed the team’s training sessions subsequently to muscular fatigue.

And, his recovery is once again taking longer than expected. Ancelotti has confirmed that Benzema would be unavailable for the team’s game at the Vallecas which will be the seventh match he misses through injury this season.

The Merengues have the resources to cope with his absence, but the 34-year-old’s injury record is a concerning statistic. Nevertheless, Monday’s game could now be another chance for Marco Asensio to prove his worth alongside Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo who have both taken the new season by storm.

3. Hanging on by a thread

When Real Madrid won El Clasico at Santiago Bernabeu, they took a solid three-point lead over arch-rivals Barcelona. However, the last matchday ruined Los Blancos’ party.

On Matchday 12, Barcelona pulled off a last-minute win over Valencia to secure three points at Mestalla. However, Real Madrid dished out a sore display against Girona and fell to a tame 1-1 draw courtesy of a controversial 80th-minute penalty for the visitors.

The defending champions’ lead thus fell to just two points ahead of this week’s round of football in Spain. Following Barcelona’s win over Almeria on Saturday, they currently sit on the top of the table, two points clear of Real Madrid, albeit having played one extra game.

When Ancelotti’s men take on Rayo Vallecano on Monday, the objective will thus be to register a win and regain the top spot. Any other result against Andoni Iraola’s side would indirectly render Los Blancos‘ hard-worked win over Barcelona worthless. A draw will see them on par with their arch rivals while a loss will see them sit in second place.

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MU Shorts

Four Real Madrid players that could leave in January due to lack of playtime

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Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Despite the acquisitions of Kylian Mbappe and Endrick, Real Madrid’s summer is far from over.

The newly crowned European champions could face pressure to offload a few of their first-team stars, on account of these new acquisitions.

With a few more stars likely to join the club in the coming summer, there are multiple Real Madrid players who may end up leaving Santiago Bernabeu, if not this summer, then perhaps in mid-season.

Here, at Madrid Universal, we will take a look at four such players who may leave Real Madrid in January 2025.

Rodrygo

What’s in store for Rodrygo this summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

The arrival of Mbappe throws a big question mark over Rodrygo’s future at the Bernabeu. The Brazilian winger has been a key player for Real Madrid in recent seasons, but his playing time is likely to be significantly impacted by Mbappe’s presence.

If Rodrygo finds himself consistently benched, a loan move or even a permanent transfer could be on the cards.

The Brazilian, in fact, has been linked with a move to a series of top Premier League clubs in recent weeks, with Liverpool even tabling an offer worth €120 million.

Although Real Madrid have rejected Rodrygo’s advances, the club are open to the attacker’s sale if any suitor comes up with an offer of €150 million.

Even if Rodrygo ends up remaining at Santiago Bernabeu, it won’t come as a surprise to see the attacker having to settle for a move elsewhere in January.

Dani Ceballos

Ceballos’ situation unlikely to improve. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Dani Ceballos’ story at Real Madrid this season has been all about injuries and bench appearances.

Due to the explosion of young stars such as Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga, Federico Valverde and Aurelien Tchouameni, Ceballos has found himself trailing in the pecking order.

Ceballos’ situation at Real Madrid has become more precarious even after Toni Kroos’ retirement, as the club are now reportedly considering the idea of accommodating Bellingham in a deeper midfield role.

Los Blancos are reportedly interested in keeping hold of the midfielder and there is still a chance the player could remain at the club this summer. But if he continues to struggle with game-time, a January exit could be on the cards.

Arda Guler

Guler may have to settle for a loan move in Jan. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Arda Guler was one of Real Madrid’s biggest bets last summer, as the youngster arrived at Santiago Bernabeu with a lot of hype.

Although the Turk did not have the best of starts to the season, his rapid rise to prominence was one of Real Madrid’s biggest highlights during the final phase of the league campaign.

Guler notably ended the campaign with six goals in ten league appearances. However, the playmaker’s role at Real Madrid could be reduced once again, especially following the arrivals of Mbappe and Endrick.

If Real Madrid find Guler’s role minimised significantly during the first half of the campaign, they might consider a loan move for the Turkish international, who has been linked with a move to at least eight clubs across Europe.

Fran Garcia

Fran Garcia’s future could be called into question. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images)

Similar to Guler, young left-back Fran Garcia hasn’t seen much action with the first team. While a talented player, he currently finds himself behind Ferland Mendy in the pecking order.

Garcia has featured in 25 league matches this term, but only 15 of them have been starts. His role in the squad could dwindle further next season as Real Madrid weigh a move for Alphonso Davies.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti has indicated that he wants Davies only as an addition to Mendy in the left-back position.

Fran Garcia might stay at Real Madrid even if Davies joins the club. But his limited role in the team may eventually force him to settle for a loan or even a permanent move elsewhere. In the event of a permanent exit, though, Real Madrid are likely to retain a buyback clause.

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