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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano | La Liga

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

After a gap of seven days, Real Madrid returned to action on Sunday night. The rest is well deserved for the men in white, for they returned home with three precious points in El Clasico last weekend.

The La Liga title race is wide open eleven match days into the season. Four clubs sit in contention, with just four points separating them. Consistency, at this point, is critical.

Come Sunday, Los Blancos face a tricky opposition in Rayo Vallecano. Francisco Rodriguez’s men are currently seventh in La Liga with four wins in eleven games. Notably, however, they are unbeaten in their last nine games across all competitions.

The Merengues are the favourites to walk away with three points, but with new variables now in the picture, the story is not as clear.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Keeping the steam

The mood in Madrid has never been better all season. After all, Real Madrid sit on the top of the table both in La Liga and their UEFA Champions League group and are coming off perhaps their biggest win of the season.

Last weekend, Los Blancos travelled to Catalonia to take on Barcelona in El Clasico. The first half did not pan out according to Carlo Ancelotti’s plans, with the men in white going down a goal early.

What unfolded in the second half was ruthless. The game remained balanced between the two arch-rivals, but the Merengues took their chances with unreal precision. In the end, two Jude Bellingham goals sealed the win for Real Madrid.

Real Madrid are thus unbeaten in their last seven games across all competitions, winning six of them. Further, they boast a four-point lead over Barcelona and are only tied with Girona at the top.

Heading into tomorrow’s clash against Rayo Vallecano, the team must ride on the high. The momentum is on their side, and a win could potentially take them to the sole leader position.

Two fresh blows

Tchouameni’s absence will be felt. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Real Madrid suffered two injuries in quick succession during El Clasico, both of the players who started on the afternoon.

The first player was Ferland Mendy. The French defender was seen limping immediately after half-time and was substituted off for Eduardo Camavinga in the 48th minute.

Mendy made his return to group training earlier today, but is not yet at full fitness, and as such he will be sitting out against Rayo Vallecano, although Ancelotti did hint that he could be ready for the SC Braga clash.

The second, and perhaps more worrying blow, was suffered by Aurelien Tchouameni. The midfield star suffered a foot fracture and is likely to be sidelined for at least two months through the same.

Tchouameni was perhaps the single most important factor in Real Madrid’s midfield dominance this season, and his injury comes as a big blow.

With the Frenchman injured, his compatriot Eduardo Camavinga is expected to take his place in the coming games. The 20-year-old has proven his value at the base of the midfield multiple times. Against Rayo Vallecano, he will be on defensive midfield duty once more.

Pressure on the former Rayo Vallecano star

Carlo Ancelotti’s team does not have many cracks on the field, but the left-back position would be one of the more worrying departments if forced to choose.

In Ferland Mendy, Eduardo Camavinga, and Fran Garcia, the manager has enjoyed the liberty to choose from three players so far this season. However, the circumstances are no longer the same.

Mendy is out of contention for a starting spot, while Camavinga will almost certainly play the coming clashes as the defensive midfielder.

Ancelotti is thus left with Garcia as his only left-back option ahead of tomorrow’s clash. The storyline is poetic when one considers that Garcia rose to prominence and caught Real Madrid’s eye once again playing with Rayo Vallecano, the Merengues’ opposition on the night.

As the team’s only viable left-back option, the spotlight will be on Garcia to step up and prove his worth to the management.

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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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