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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Elche

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Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images

On Wednesday night, Santiago Bernabeu will host a clash between two polar ends of the table.

Real Madrid are the team with the second-most points won in the league so far and have dropped just 15 of a possible 60 points so far.

Their opponents on the night, Elche, have managed just nine points in as many games and have been the worst-performing team in the division by a margin.

Pablo Machin’s side have won just one of their 20 games so far and sit ten points behind 19th-placed Getafe.

Many have dubbed relegation as unavoidable for Elche, but the team managed to churn out its first win of the season just last week over the mighty Villarreal. Fresh from their exploits over the Yellow Submarines, they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with a feeble, yet possible hope of surviving relegation.

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

1. Propelled to success

The World Club Champions return to Santiago Bernabeu for the first time on Wednesday since winning the title in Morocco at the weekend. Newly bestowed with the reputed status, the onus will be on Real Madrid to hold up against the standards.

The title of World champion brings with it a world of pressure. Ironically, however, it is concurrently a force that can push the side to greater heights.

As echoed by players who spoke to the press after Saturday’s game, the taste of silverware has only replenished Real Madrid’s hunger for titles.

A crucial five months lie ahead of Carlo Ancelotti’s men, and a great part of how it progresses will depend on how they channel the newfound purpose on the field.

The clash against Elche marks the beginning of a critical period in the European Champions’ season. The UEFA Champions League returns next week, while Barcelona awaits them in the Copa del Rey later this month.

On the league front, the men in white are eleven points behind Barcelona and cannot afford to drop any more points. Los Blancos must thus think of the Club World Cup win as a timely reminder of their quality and look to push harder right from the clash on Wednesday.

2. Rodrygo’s golden chance

An attempt to cement a place. (Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Since his coming to form last season, Vinicius Jr has gone on to become an irreplaceable part of Real Madrid’s starting lineup. The Brazilian has his name engraved on the left wing under Carlo Ancelotti and carries his good form into the 2022-23 season.

The 22-year-old has started all 20 of Real Madrid’s La Liga clashes this season and five of their six games in the UEFA Champions League. Across the two competitions, he has scored 11 goals and provided four assists.

The youngster is set to miss his first league game of the campaign midweek after receiving his fifth yellow card in Real Madrid’s defeat to Mallorca. Rodrygo Goes will be the one to replace him on the left wing against Elche, as confirmed by Carlo Ancelotti in his pre-match press conference.

Rodrygo has grabbed all his opportunities this season by the scruff and has regularly made an impact coming off the bench. However, he has struggled to establish himself as a regular starter and has fighting against Federico Valverde and Marco Asensio for a spot on the right all season.

A mostly assured start thus arrives as a massive opportunity for the 22-year-old who already has nine goal contributions to his name in this season’s La Liga. Going up against last-placed Elche, he will fancy his chances of making a tangible impact.

3. The big left-back call

With Ferland Mendy’s injury last month came Carlo Ancelotti’s way a torrent of dilemmas. After all, David Alaba’s injury meant the manager had no natural left-back at his disposal.

In the face of adversity, Eduardo Camavinga stepped out of his comfort zone and played as a left-back for the club.

Surprisingly, the French midfielder did not appear like a fish out of water despite playing a completely different role and made himself a regular starter in defence for five games.

Now, David Alaba is available at Ancelotti’s disposal, having completely overcome his fitness setbacks. Thus, the manager will be forced into a difficult decision ahead of kickoff.

As the Italian tactician revealed in his media interaction, Camavinga’s performances did not warrant replacement in any capacity. The Austrian international’s previous experience as a left-back opens up the possibility of him replacing the midfielder. It remains to be seen as to which side Ancelotti leans on the night.

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Features

Five players who will be fixed starters for Real Madrid next season

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Following a successful campaign, Real Madrid are poised for significant changes in their roster due to a combination of player arrivals and departures.

The responsibility of blending new faces with established stars will fall to coach Carlo Ancelotti and his staff as they aim to maintain the club’s competitive edge domestically and in Europe.

And to predict the team’s probable strategy and performance amidst these changes, it is imperative to identify the key players who will be constant starters.

Kylian Mbappe

The new talisman. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

With Real Madrid no longer viewing Mbappe through rose-tinted lenses and finally being able to dress him in the royal white jersey, the Frenchman is expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Owing to his instinctive nature to find the back of the net, he is poised to be paired alongside Vinicius Jr. in attack.

Last season, the 2018 World Cup winner scored a whopping 44 goals in all competitions. Thus Real Madrid will be banking heavily on Mbappe’s ability to ask questions of opposition defenders in the final third.

It is being said that Mbappe is all set to wear the iconic number 9 jersey at Real Madrid, which is indicative of the role he will play, as a focal striker.

Vinicius Jr.

The main man at Real Madrid. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Brazilian is in pole position to win the Ballon d’Or this year, and looking back on his season with Real Madrid, it is easy to see why.

Despite losing Karim Benzema, his usual partner in crime over the past few years, Vinicius performed remarkably well in Ancelotti’s new system.

Relentlessly taking on defenders, arriving into space, scoring goals, and stepping up in the biggest of moments, he was one of Real Madrid’s major lynchpins throughout the season as they lifted a historic double.

Vinicius impressively racked up 24 goals last season, and given his importance to the team, the likelihood of him not maintaining a starting role next season is nearly nonexistent.

Jude Bellingham

Real Madrid Fans’ Player of the Season. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Defying all expectations in his debut season, Jude Bellingham established himself as a key player for Real Madrid, demonstrating exceptional versatility, and maturity far beyond his years.

Although the Englishman’s performances wavered in the final stretch of the season, Bellingham’s contributions ensured Los Blancos were able to compete in the Champions League and especially La Liga.

In addition to scoring 23 goals in all competitions, he has constantly been a beacon of reliability in midfield and has proven to be the voice of reason on the pitch.

There have been murmurs about Bellingham potentially being berthed deeper next season as Real Madrid intends to use him as Kroos’ replacement. However, given his versatility, he is expected to be a crucial player wherever he plays.

Antonio Rudiger

A mainstay at the back. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Rudiger is one of the major reasons Real Madrid managed to successfully disguise their injury crisis. Despite players falling like dominos in the back-line, the German stood resolutely as a dependable figure for most of the campaign, arguably enjoying one of his best seasons.

Expertly anticipating opposition strikers’ movements, he leaps forward to thwart attacks before they begin. Moreover, thanks to his large stature and incredible recovery pace, he is able to cover distances behind.

Reports have mentioned that Carlo Ancelotti views him as a crucial component of the squad and potential arrivals, such as those of Leny Yoro and Rafa Marin, in the back-line are unlikely to devalue his presence.

Thibaut Courtois

Back like he was never gone. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

In spite of spending more than half of the campaign on the sidelines recovering from an ACL and MCL injury, Courtois is worth his weight in gold for Real Madrid.

He performed admirably in the final few games of the season and did no wrong against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final.

While Andriy Lunin made up for his absence with flying colours, he is placed below Courtois in the pecking order for now, which also has made the Ukrainian lean towards an exit.

The fact that Lunin, after his sublime season, stands no chance of dethroning Courtois between the sticks is a testament to how much the club appreciates the Belgian. Even at the age of 32, the Belgian keeper is anticipated to retain an important role in the team.

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