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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Cadiz

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Two weeks ago, Real Madrid would not have expected to be chasing their rivals in the league standings. The men in white were placed comfortably above Barcelona and seemed set to head into the World Cup hiatus with a solid lead. However, the tables have turned in a matter of days.

A defeat and a loss in their last two league fixtures leave them hanging in second place with a five-point deficit to first-placed Barcelona. And they must tighten the noose against Cadiz tonight in order cut down that gap.

Sergio’s men are struggling in the first division this term and have just two wins in their 13 games. With eleven points, they sit in the relegation zone just over Elche.

One would expect Carlo Ancelotti’s men to obliterate their opponents on Thursday, but nothing can be said about a team that does not have momentum on its side.

The manager will be without Karim Benzema and Antonio Rudiger on the night, both of whom miss the clash through injury. Nevertheless, he will have Toni Kroos back after the German served his one-match ban.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Thursday’s clash at the Bernabeu.

1. Time to strike back

Carlo Ancelotti’s press conference statement aptly summarises Real Madrid’s situation and mentality heading into Thursday’s clash. When asked about his team’s recent defeats, the manager sternly stated that his men were angry at their situation and want to turn things around.

The players’ and the manager’s anger is justified, given the poor run of form Real Madrid have shown. It all began with a 3-2 defeat to RB Leipzig in Germany before they dropped points to Girona at the end of last month.

The final nail in the coffin came in the form of a painful defeat at Estadio de Vallecas when Los Blancos were completely outplayed in the ninety minutes. Their forward line looked blunt on the night and Rayo Vallecano clearly looked like the team that wanted the win more.

The loss in Madrid brought with it serious implications. Real Madrid conceded their table-top spot and gifted it to arch-rivals Barcelona with one game to spare before the World Cup. Moreover, the Blaugrana’s win over Osasuna at El Sadar means that even a win against Cadiz for Ancelotti’s men would not suffice to win back the pole position.

Nevertheless, the team must maintain a close gap with Barcelona and come up with a strong display at Bernabeu to sign off on high spirits.

2. Toni Kroos – a decisive difference

Toni Kroos has been and continues to be an extremely underrated component of Real Madrid’s midfield. The German international may not be the flashiest player on the field, but his influence on the team’s performance is massive.

When one looks back to the defeat to Rayo Vallecano earlier this week, it becomes increasingly clear that Los Blancos missed the midfield maestro dearly. In the end, his reckless red card against Girona proved extremely costly.

Kroos will be back in action for the team’s final game before the World Cup and is expected to start alongside Aurelien Tchouameni and Luka Modric. Given that the Frenchman was also injured for a while, Ancelotti will have his strongest midfield available again.

3. Who will step up in attack?

Real Madrid’s last game was very uncharacteristic in that the team seemed to struggle in the final third. Despite not having Karim Benzema for most of the season, the men in white have not struggled to find important goals across competitions. Yet, the front three looked overwhelmed at Vallecas.

Vinicius Jr made just 33 touches in 90 minutes and did not even complete a single dribble in the game, clearly showing that he was outside his comfort zone. His compatriot Rodrygo looked equally clueless, registering zero shots on target and missing one big chance.

Marco Asensio was the only Real Madrid forward who showed promise against Andoni Iraola’s men and is in line to get another start tonight. Yet, the big question will be whether Rodrygo and Vinicius can show their class without Benzema on the field, or whether the Ballon d’Or winner’s absence costs the team again.

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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Sevilla | La Liga GW 26

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

As one of the few teams that managed to take a point off Real Madrid in the first half of the season, Rayo Vallecano was seen as a dangerous opponent as Los Blancos prepared for matchday 25 of La Liga.

True to the expectation, the visitors gave Real Madrid a run for their money and managed to salvage a draw once more.

Matchday 26, thus, presents yet another steep challenge for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. The men in white lock horns with Sevilla, one of the few other teams that managed to hold them to a draw in their previous encounter.

It has not been an easy season for Los Nervionenses as they linger in 15th place after 25 games. However, they have shown time and time again that they have resilience and they will trouble the Merengues without a doubt.

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

An emotional, yet emotion-less affair

The one headline flooding the news ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Sevilla this weekend is about Sergio Ramos. The former Real Madrid captain faced Los Blancos earlier this season at Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and showed that he still had it in him to play at the top level, but tomorrow’s clash will be special for reasons beyond the sporting sense.

The Spanish superstar captained one of the Merengues’ greatest units in history and saw them make their way to back-to-back titles for years. His departure from the club, however, was almost anti-climactic as he left as a free agent in 2021.

Tomorrow night will be the first time the club legend steps foot on the grasses of the Santiago Bernabeu since his departure. A return to the stadium he once called home can only be described as an emotional affair.

Moreover, the club administration have even arranged for a small emotional tribute to the player who took them to great heights in the last decade, amplifying the sense of nostalgia.

Concurrently, however, both Ramos and Real Madrid are fiercely competitive and do not see nostalgia as any reason for sympathy. Once the referee blows the whistle, there will be no love lost between the two parties.

Real Madrid will be forced to go up against the monster they created, while Ramos will be equally motivated to show the management what they lost by passing on him. In either case, the game will be driven by passion and will not be affected one bit by the background story.

Two suspensions, one return

Carvajal out, but Rudiger’s back. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

In addition to his long list of injuries, Carlo Ancelotti has a new factor to consider before deploying his starting XI on Sunday night. After all, two players are out through suspension – Dani Carvajal and Eduardo Camavinga.

The Spanish veteran was sent off in Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano and will be unavailable to start on the night at right-back. Ancelotti will turn towards Lucas Vazquez to cover the void on the night, but it is clear that Carvajal will be missed.

The second player unavailable on the night, Eduardo Camavinga, is once again replaceable, now that Antonio Rudiger is back fit and ready to feature.

The German maestro has missed three weeks of action through injury but has made a comeback. His availability on the night would enable Aurelien Tchouameni to play as the pivot, effectively covering for Camavinga’s absence.

Guler’s moment?

Going up against Sevilla, one of the few teams to have stolen points from Real Madrid this season, Carlo Ancelotti will be without the services of two key attackers.

Jude Bellingham will continue to be unavailable on the night as he recovers from his recent blow. The Englishman has made good progress so far, but it is still sizeably away from a return.

Joselu, meanwhile, was confirmed to be suffering from bone edema and is expected to be out for at least three weeks. The combination of the two absences leaves Ancelotti with only three viable attacking options – Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo Goes, and Brahim Diaz.

The Spanish-Moroccan star is expected to slot into Bellingham’s position, for it is his niche on the field while the two Brazilians will start up front as the two forwards. As revealed yesterday, the situation also opens the door for Arda Guler.

Ancelotti sees Guler as a player capable of making a difference as a forward and will thus count on him more often in the coming days. With all forward options likely to start, the Turkish phenom could begin to enjoy more prominence as a substitute tomorrow against Sevilla.

There have been talks around a possible loan involving Guler in recent weeks, and the coming games could just be his best bet to prove his worth and establish his presence under the manager.

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