Earlier this season, Real Madrid easily put away a strong Celtic side by three goals in the first matchday of the UEFA Champions League. Four games later in the competition, the two sides meet again, albeit under different circumstances.
Real Madrid recently hit the first big hiccup of their season in the form of a defeat to RB Leipzig. Days later, they stepped onto the field hoping for redemption against Girona. However, a combination of poor play and questionable refereeing led the hosts to drop two points.
While Celtic are yet to register their first points in the UCL, Real Madrid will play to secure the first spot on the standings with a dominant victory. The defending champions cannot afford to take the visitors lightly, however, for the Scottish side have been ruthless in their domestic campaign and have netted 42 goals in just 12 Premiership games.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Ange Postecoglou’s side.
1. Seeing off the hiccup
If Real Madrid’s loss to RB Leipzig was not a deep enough wound in itself, the team fell to a tame draw in their next game to smear salt onto the bruise.
Los Blancos are usually not a team to let a poor result get into their head and influence future performances. They are the mentality kings of Europe and have proved the strength of their mental game innumerable times on the biggest stage.
While Carlo Ancelotti’s men were underwhelming at the RB Arena last week, the same cannot be said about the game against Girona. On another day with another referee, all three points would be in Real Madrid’s bag.
That Real Madrid suffered a draw immediately after their first defeat of the season can be taken as a coincidence. However, a third successive poor result will raise questions about their form. Clearly, a win is the need of the hour both for the players and the manager.
2. The middle muddle
Carlo Ancelotti has several options for the middle of the park, yet only a few are really available for tomorrow’s game.
Aurelien Tchouameni is yet to fully recover from his muscular niggle and the manager has confirmed that the Frenchman will not participate in the game against Celtic. Meanwhile, Luka Modric played the entire 90 minutes against Girona and deserves a rest amidst the busy schedule.
Federico Valverde presents a strong case to start in midfield but the coach would prefer deploying the Uruguayan as a winger once again given his unbelievable recent record.
Given all the constraints, it is not difficult to predict Real Madrid’s midfield on the night. Toni Kroos will miss the next La Liga game through suspension and is well-placed to start against Celtic. He will likely be placed alongside Eduardo Camavinga and Dani Ceballos on the night, both of whom have something to prove to the manager with their performances.
3. Eyes on the pinnacle
The psychological aspect aside, Real Madrid have to win over Celtic even purely from the competition’s point of view.
Having played five group stage games so far, the men in white sit atop Group F standings in the UCL with ten points. RB Leipzig follow closely behind with nine points after registering a win over Real Madrid last week.
The top spot is in Los Blancos‘ hands as it stands, but only a win on Wednesday can guarantee them the privileged position. If they drop points against Celtic, however, they risk losing it to the German side who will jump to 12 points should they win against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Needless to say, Real Madrid will go all out and hope to seal their objective without depending on the result of the other game. That will not be easy, however, considering Celtic’s fearless and attacking brand of football.
The Scottish side have scored 42 goals in 12 Premiership games this season, conceding just nine in the process. They are currently the leaders of the Scottish league and will be keen to get the first win of their UCL campaign against the defending champions.
Three talking points ahead of Rayo Vallecano vs Real Madrid | La Liga GW 25
Nestled in the outskirts of Madrid is Vallecas, the home of Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid’s next destination as per the La Liga calendar. The Estadio de Vallecas is famed as one the Spain’s more difficult stadiums for away sides to perform at, but as the league leaders, Real Madrid will gun for nothing short of a win tomorrow.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men enter the game on Sunday with a five-point lead at the top of the table. With five wins in their last six games across all competitions, they also have the momentum on their side.
Their opponents, meanwhile, are not on quite similar terms based on form. Rayo Vallecano have won just five of their 24 league games this season and have scored just 21 times in that duration. Moreover, they currently sit in 14th place on the standings, seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Rayo Vallecano vs Real Madrid.
Test for the attack
Very few teams have been able to avoid the wrath of Real Madrid this season. The men in white have come out on top in most of the clashes that they have played across all competitions, winning 100% of the UCL games and 19 of their 24 games in La Liga.
Rayo Vallecano is one of the few teams that has managed to take points off the leaders this season, and that goes a long way in establishing their defensive supremacy and resilience this term.
When Vallecano visited the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this season, they ground out a 0-0 draw. Notably, they are the only team other than Atletico Madrid this season to take points away from Real Madrid at home.
Los Blancos created several chances on the night and even missed two big chances. However, the truth behind the statistics is that Rayo Vallecano’s defence was on point, with Stole Dimitrievski dishing out a clinic in goal.
Heading into tomorrow’s clash, all eyes will thus be on the attack. Will Real Madrid’s dynamic forward unit succeed in getting past the defensive unit that plagued them back in November?
Champion worthy team
Everything about Ancelotti’s side this season screams of the word champion. After all, they have made it look ridiculously easy to drop high-class performances week after week, all while battling with debilitating hurdles along the way.
Purely from a fitness perspective, the 2023-24 campaign has been far from simple for Los Blancos. Having lost three players to ACL injuries in addition to the regular list of shorter injuries players have suffered, the manager has never had the entire squad at his disposal.
Yet, the players drop sensational performances whenever called on. Be it in their niche position or a completely alien one in that, every player donning the Real Madrid crest this season has delivered beyond expectations. That, if anything, is the mark of a champion unit.
The Merengues showed their grit and determination to take down Girona by a 4-0 scoreline earlier this month before pulling away with a tight, yet well-fought 1-0 win over RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League.
They head into tomorrow’s clash riding on the same momentum, knowing full well that every win from this point only engraves their name deeper on the league trophy. As long as the fire continues to burn in them, it will take something very special to take apart this Real Madrid unit.
Nearly at the end of the tunnel
Of all the dilemmas Carlo Ancelotti has faced over the course of the season, his recent defensive crisis was the most serious by far. The manager was pushed into a situation where he had no fit centre-backs to call on, forcing him to start Dani Carvajal and Aurelien Tchouameni in defence.
Not many expected the same game to turn out to be Real Madrid’s best showing of the season, and though both makeshift defenders put in enormous shifts, Nacho Fernandez’s return for the next game came as a welcome arrival.
The Spaniard is fit for tomorrow’s clash and will be joined by Aurelien Tchouameni once again, for Antonio Rudiger is yet to receive the medical all-clear. Considering that the German is expected to be fit in time for Real Madrid’s next league clash, tomorrow could be the last time the French midfielder is forced to play out of position in defence.
Needless to say, this can only be described as the light at the end of a long and winding tunnel. Tchouameni put in a tremendous shift to ensure that the handicap did not affect Real Madrid’s season, and the manager will be delighted to see that the days with two fit central defenders are not far away.