Connect with us

Features

Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona

Published

on

Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

Real Madrid return to the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night for the first time since booking a place in the semifinal of the UEFA Champions League.

Having dethroned the reigning UCL champions midweek, they will look to do the same to the reigning Spanish champions at the weekend as they take on Barcelona in La Liga.

The Catalans have been on a mini resurgence in recent weeks, but their momentum and morale was crushed midweek with a defeat to PSG in the second leg of the UCL quarterfinal.

Real Madrid have got the better of the Blaugranas twice this season already, and appear to have the advantage over them for the third time ahead of Sunday’s clash. A win on the night would have massive implications.

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

Riding the high

Manchester City may have embarrassed Real Madrid by a 4-0 scoreline at the Etihad one year ago. Earlier this week, however, Los Blancos exacted their revenge at the same venue.

Pep Guardiola’s side may have been the more dominant team on the night with the better chances. On a scale of who deserved to go through for attacking football, the Premier League giants indeed would have made the cut.

Yet, Real Madrid held on through the storm and pulled through an extra 30 minutes to take the game to a penalty shootout. The masters of nerves kept their cool through the tense shootout and pulled through in clutch Real Madrid style.

Ancelotti must play his cards right (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

They now enter El Clasico riding on the wave of momentum that has been going their way all season, and they must look to capitalise on the psychological edge they boast on the psychological front.

After all, Barcelona are coming off a tough defeat which sealed their elimination from Europe and are far from their best state from a psychological standpoint. A mentally weakened opposition is, after all, half conquered.

The final rung

El Clasico has lost its charm in recent years and is overtaken by several other fascinating fixtures across the globe as football’s elite clash.

While a part of the decline is due to the departure of big names from both teams, Barcelona’s overall fall in quality has an equal role to play in the same.

While the game may not have the same global appeal it did a few years ago, however, El Clasico seldom arrives without any reward on the line. This time, it brings with it a real chance for Carlo Ancelotti’s side to celebrate a massive success.

With seven games to go in La Liga, Los Blancos sit comfortably on 78 points while second-placed Barcelona are on 70 points. A win tomorrow will widen the gap to 11 points, and virtually seal La Liga in Real Madrid’s name.

After all, it is almost unthinkable that the men in white will lose four of their next six games after the Clasico. Tomorrow’s game, thus, brings with it the ultimate prize.

Carlo Ancelotti’s focus against Barcelona, thus, will be to ensure that his side do not slacken out and that they bring home all three points the easy way. After all, a defeat at the Bernabeu will cut their lead to five points and set up for a nervy finish.

The right rotations

Having just played a tiring 120-minute shift against Manchester City on Wednesday night, it is but natural for Los Blancos to feel fatigued.

Checking on players’ fitness and opting for the right rotations, albeit without impacting the quality on the field, thus will be Ancelotti’s greatest challenge ahead of the showdown against Barcelona.

For starters, Toni Kroos is expected to be replaced by Luka Modric in midfield on the night after playing a long shift midweek. The Croatian showed against Manchester City that he still has magic in his boots, and a start against Barcelona would not be undeserved.

The second likely change in midfield will be the return of Aurelien Tchouameni, who was suspended midweek. The Frenchman is expected to take the place of his teammate Eduardo Camavinga at the base of midfield.

Moving to the final third, the player in question for the game is Vinicius Jr, especially considering that he was facing muscular discomfort after the game in England.

He has been included in the squad to face Barcelona, but it is critical that Ancelotti evaluates his fitness before handing him the start.

If indeed the Brazilian is not fit to play from the first minute, Rodrygo will take his place on the left wing with Joselu covering the second spot in attack.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Features

Three talking points ahead of Villarreal vs Real Madrid

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading