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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid



Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Fresh off their victory over Liverpool, Real Madrid return home to host a familiar opposition in Atletico Madrid in on Saturday in La Liga.

The two Madrid sides have already met twice this season, with the men in white coming out on top on both occasions. Real Madrid managed a 2-1 win over their rivals at the Civitas Metropolitano in September, and more recently, a 3-1 victory over them last month in the Cup.

Los Blancos‘ fixture on Saturday is vital from multiple point of views, and could have implications on the title race. Carlo Ancelotti is expected to make changes from the lineup he last deployed in La Liga and will hope that his full-strength Real Madrid can make easy work of Diego Simeone’s side.

Madrid universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid.

1. Riding the Anfield high

Real Madrid churned out the best display of all teams competing in Europe earlier this week when they took down Liverpool in their own backyard.

Coming back from two goals down to win by three, the men in white were in dangerous form in the second half and played perhaps their best 45 minutes of football this season. Their exploits in England come as the right boost ahead of a difficult few weeks.

In less than seven days, the Merengues take on both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Two La Liga games later, they host Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool before facing Xavi Hernandez’s men twice again, once each in the cup and La Liga.

A perfect month from here on in would go a long way in ensuring Real Madrid’s success on all fronts and would keep them well placed to secure a special treble. Needless to say, they must thus start off their difficult period with a strong display against Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, riding on the wave of momentum they secured at Anfield.

2. Tchouameni and Benzema return

After spending close to a month on the sidelines, Aurelien Tchouameni made it back just in time for Real Madrid’s Club World Cup campaign. However, the Frenchman was once again forced to sit out the team’s last two games through unfortunate flu.

He is back in the squad to take on Los Rojiblancos at Santiago Bernabeu and is expected to start on the night.

Tchouameni, Benzema likely to start vs Atletico (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Tchouameni was the undisputed owner of the starting spot in defensive midfield until the end of last year. However, he now faces stiff competition from his compatriot Eduardo Camavinga and will thus be motivated to prove to the manager that he is still the better choice for the big games.

The midfielder is not the only French boost Ancelotti enjoys before the derby. Karim Benzema sat out the Merengues’ clash against Osasuna last weekend in anticipation of the game at Anfield but will return to the lineup in La Liga tomorrow.

Benzema’s form will be crucial for Real Madrid’s chances in the coming weeks. After scoring a special brace at Anfield, the veteran striker will look to leave his mark on the Madrid derby tomorrow and prepare for the upcoming Clasico.

3. A vital three points

Of all of Real Madrid’s remaining fixtures in La Liga, the Madrid derby and next month’s El Clasico are perhaps the most difficult points to win. To get six points against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the games to come would thus be a big step towards catching the Catalans on the leaderboard.

On Saturday, the Merengues will have their first chance to secure three points in one of the aforementioned fixtures. Yet, the task is far from easy.

Simeone’s side currently sit fourth on the league standings with 41 points from 22 games. The Rojiblancos are unbeaten in their last four matches, and their last defeat, interestingly, came against Real Madrid in the quarter-final of the Copa del Rey.

A win over the Colchoneros would be massive in the grand scheme of things on the league standings. However, a defeat on Saturday could help Barcelona increase their lead to 11 points, a figure that looks nearly impossible to conquer.

Ancelotti’s side could only manage a goalless draw against third-placed Real Sociedad last month. They cannot afford to drop any points facing the fourth-placed team tomorrow. As the Madrid derby looms and tensions rise, one knows that the result could be telling on the final title race.

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Three talking points ahead of Villarreal vs Real Madrid



Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Jr, Federico Valverde and Arda Guler were all on target when Real Madrid demolished Deportivo Alaves by a 5-0 scoreline midweek.

The win at the Santiago Bernabeu took the team to 93 points in La Liga, with the champion status already earned. The target now, however, is to reach the magical number of 99 points.

Tomorrow, Los Blancos step on the field for their penultimate league clash of the season as they lock horns against Villarreal.

Their opponents, currently placed eighth in the league, are fighting for a place in Europe and must win tomorrow at Estadio de La Ceramica if they are to remain in the race.

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

Can Bellingham maintain the steam?

Jude Bellingham’s dip in form towards the end of the season raised many concerns in the Real Madrid offices over his fitness and physical state. A mini ‘pre-season’ was said to be in the manager’s plan, especially keeping Bellingham’s recovery in mind.

The young midfielder, however, started the team’s game against Deportivo Alaves once more despite rumours of him being rested and dished out a classic on the night. His performance, in many senses, was one that announced his return to form.

In 90 minutes against Alaves, Bellingham scored one goal and provided two assists as the game ended 5-0 in Real Madrid’s favour.

Furthermore, the former Borussia Dortmund star recorded a staggering 121 touches, 99 passes, six key passes and created one big chance. He also completed four dribbles on the night and participated in eight defensive actions.

It thus becomes a serious question ahead of tomorrow’s clash as to how Carlo Ancelotti plans on managing Bellingham’s minutes.

The obvious approach would be to field the youngster from the start and reward his improved performance at the weekend. Concurrently, however, there is concern over the midfielder being overused which inhibits the manager from such a move.

Will Bellingham start against Villarreal or will the likes of Brahim Diaz or Arda Guler get a deserved start? Only time will tell.

Lunin’s heroic exit

Thibaut Courtois’ injury before the commencement of the new season left Real Madrid with a crisis in goal. The repercussions of the blow, however, were not as dire as expected courtesy of Andriy Lunin’s exceptional performances.

Lunin could play his final game of the season vs Villarreal. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Despite starting the campaign behind Kepa Arrizabalaga on the pecking order, the Ukrainian international has done enough to become the team’s primary goalkeeper across all competitions.

Only Courtois’ return last month displaced him from the starting lineup as the manager prioritised bringing the Belgian superstar back to full fitness.

Real Madrid now plan on starting Courtois for the big UCL final at Wembley next month.

While unfair on Lunin who deserves the start, one cannot blame Ancelotti for relying on the player who single-handedly kept the team in the game the last time they featured in a European final.

With Courtois set to start against Real Betis and Borrusia Dortmund, tomorrow could well be Lunin’s final game of the season for Real Madrid and the 25-year-old will look to depart with a bang.

Momentum is paramount

Real Madrid have already been crowned the champions of La Liga, and every game that remains in the competition at this point only serves as a practice encounter for the big challenge that lies ahead.

Los Blancos take on Borussia Dortmund in the finale of the UCL early next month, and only two games remain before the season-defining encounter. A lot, needless to say, will depend on how Ancelotti manages his squad for the two matches that lie ahead.

Considering that the calendar is no longer as hectic as it was a month ago, the manager could well field his best XI against Villarreal aiming to keep the momentum going for his side. After all, it is paramount at this stage in the season.

At the same time, however, the manager must rotate his squad ahead to give fringe players some deserved minutes and balance the playing time of regular starters.

Los Blancos, at this point, are unbeaten in 23 games across all competitions and have the momentum fairly on their side. Maintaining it with a positive result tomorrow irrespective of the final decision on the extent of rotations will thus be crucial for the Merengues.

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