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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid | Copa del Rey

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Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Real Madrid finally seem to be back in business. Two important wins in less than a week at La Ceramica and San Mames against Villarreal and Athletic Club, respectively, is a frightening roar from the European Champions that announce their return to form in grandstand fashion.

Returning home after a long journey on the road, Los Blancos host Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in their first game back at the Santiago Bernabeu in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey. The Madrid derby never has a favourites tag, but if recent history is anything to go by, the advantage is with Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

The Merengues have won four of their last six games against Simeone’s men. In their most recent meeting too, it was Real Madrid that came up trumps with goals from Rodrygo and Federico Valverde.

Having the home advantage for a game of such magnanimous proportions is an advantage that could prove decisive. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid.

1. A derby with consequences

The Madrid derby is one of the few games in football that never disappoints. The game emphasises the local rivalry that goes back decades, and in the process, presents enthralling action.

Ancelotti’s men were paired up with Villarreal for the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey. After arguably playing the most difficult opponent in the previous round, they now find themselves pitted against Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.

While the Madrid derby is always action-packed and a game of narrow margins, there is something about tomorrow’s game that makes it ever-so-slightly more anticipated than others. After all, the direct knockout format is no small factor.

Real Madrid are currently two games into their Copa del Rey campaign, having entered the competition only in the Round of 32 stage. They first pushed aside Cacereno in a close 1-0 win before completing an unreal comeback from two goals down against Villarreal.

Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, have been a part of the cup from its very first round. They were made to work hard against Almazan and CD Arenteiro in their first two rounds and then took down Real Oviedo by two goals. In their last outing, they scored two goals past Levante to set up a date against Ancelotti’s side.

It is clear that both teams have a lot to play for on Thursday. Los Rojiblancos have battled for too long in the competition to go home empty-handed, while their neighbours are one of the favourites in the competition. Only one can progress to the semi-finals, and what better game to decide than a derby?

2. Camavinga’s golden chance

A big game beckons for Camavinga (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

The talent of Eduardo Camavinga was never a subject up for debate. The prodigy joined Real Madrid as one of France’s most promising talents, however, his adaptation at the club has not been as smooth as one would have anticipated.

Yet, several fans and pundits believe that Los Blancos’ clash against Athletic Club last week was the turning point Camavinga needed to kickstart his career in Madrid.

Ancelotti has always looked at the youngster as an option in the advanced midfield and thus placed him in direct competition with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. When faced with Aurelien Tchouameni’s absence from the game last week, the Italian tactician gambled Camavinga as the pivot and boy did it pay off.

The glaring reality over the Frenchman’s ability as a pivot did not take long to come out, and the manager quickly realised that he could work with Modric and Kroos, as opposed to competing with them.

Camavinga is expected to start as the holding midfielder once again against Atletico Madrid. Paired with two of the best midfielders of the generation in the Madrid derby, the youngster will have the biggest chance of his career so far to prove his worth to the manager and demand a regular starting spot.

3. Dani Carvajal’s continued unavailability

Dani Carvajal’s injury in training was a colossal blow to Carlo Ancelotti’s plans. Having already lost Lucas Vazquez, the manager suddenly had no right-back available.

The 31-year-old was expected to be out for two games, and the prognosis suggested that he would make it in time for the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey. But he is not ready in time for the clash against Atletico, once again forcing Ancelotti into deep thought.

The coach has decided to continue to place his faith in Nacho Fernandez, who has done a clean job at right-back recently.

Atletico Madrid boasts of a dangerous attack on their left wing, with Antoine Greizmann, Thomas Lemar and Reinildo combining well in the final third. Their new signing, Memphis Depay, adds a punch to the already quality-filled department. Needless to say, Real Madrid must be wary of their right flank to control the game tomorrow.

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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

For all the institutional and sporting catastrophes Valencia suffer from, they put up a resilient show against Real Madrid last month and held them to a draw in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup.

Having fired Gennaro Gattuso less than 48 hours ago, Los Che will be under the command of an interim coach at Santiago Bernabeu in the hope of repeating their feat from Saudi Arabia.

After all, they are struggling this season with just 20 points in 18 league appearances.

Valencia may not be the top team it used to be a couple of seasons ago, but there is a fighting spirit to the squad that makes them special.

As Real Madrid looks to make amends for their dropped points against La Real, some important considerations cross the manager’s mind regarding the clash against Los Che.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia.

1. More names at Ancelotti’s disposal

Real Madrid’s long injury list has been a thorn in Carlo Ancelotti’s feet for a long time now. While the manager has had close to five players unavailable through fitness concerns, two names were considered irreplaceable.

Daniel Carvajal is the first on that list. The Spanish International’s presence gave the club hope after Lucas Vazquez’s injury last month, but almost as if planned, the 30-year-old immediately suffered a blow in training and was forced to sit out.

For four games, Ancelotti was thus forced to field Nacho Fernandez as his right-back. The centre-back did a good job at covering out of position, however, will be pushed back to the bench on Thursday as Los Blancos celebrate the return of Carvajal.

The defender is not the only one making his way back, as Aurelien Tchouameni also received the medical all-clear earlier this week.

The French pivot hobbled off an hour into Real Madrid’s league clash against Villarreal in the first week of January and has been sidelined for close to a month.

His absence pushed his coach to try numerous permutations in midfield, but it was finally Eduardo Camavinga who stamped his authority on the position.

With Tchouameni back roaring, his place in the starting lineup seems to be written in stone. One can expect the Frenchman to be deployed alongside Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos for his return to action on Thursday.

2. Concern shifts from right to left-back

The Merengues will finally have a natural right-back available to play against Valencia midweek. However, that does not signal the end of the Italian tactician’s trouble-riddles period.

Just when one full-back position returned to a state of normalcy, Real Madrid now have a crisis at left-back.

Ferland Mendy picked up a thigh injury earlier this week and will miss the team’s next two months of action at least. To say that this is a big blow to the club’s plans would be an understatement, for Mendy was the only natural left-back available in the squad.

David Alaba would appear to be the best-placed alternative, but the Austrian is ruled out through injury himself. Placed at a lack of options, Ancelotti confirmed in his press conference earlier today that Eduardo Camavinga would play there against Valencia.

The youngster has played in the defensive position earlier but will face the heat going up against Jose Luis Gaya at Santiago Bernabeu.

Given that Valencia’s right flank put up a memorable display when the two teams met last month, one can be certain that Camavinga’s performance can make or break Real Madrid’s night.

3. No margin for error

Less than halfway through the league season, Los Blancos already find themselves five points behind Barcelona. The wide gap is not a consequence of the defending champions’ poor form but the sheer consistency of Xavi Hernandez’s men, who cannot stop winning.

Having won the Supercopa de Espana last month, the Catalans are currently riding high on confidence. With their season heading from strength to strength, Real Madrid must hold on and wait for the right opportunity to topple the tables.

The Galacticos‘ draw against Real Sociedad added two points to the gap between the top two sides last week. At this stage, Ancelotti’s men cannot afford any further slip-ups for a larger gap would be too much for the men in white to compensate.

Every game henceforth will be a final for Real Madrid in La Liga. Three points are the bare minimum the club can walk away with from any fixture, and that mission will start from their game against Valencia.

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