With their comeback win over Mallorca at the weekend, Real Madrid are the only team in Europe’s top five leagues to have not dropped a single point this season. Such a record does not come by often, and the team will look to hold on to it for as long as possible.
For that, however, they will have to get the better of RB Leipzig on Wednesday in what promises to be a gruelling game. The Germans are the toughest of the three competitors in Los Blancos’ Champions League group and a win on the night would go a long way in ensuring a top spot finish.
Carlo Ancelotti is expected to go all out with his strongest lineup after resting his midfield stars at the weekend. However, he will also be without the services of Karim Benzema, Eder Militao and Lucas Vazquez.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of the defending champions’ midweek fixture.
1. Tchouameni with the Casemiro treatment
If one were to choose one standout player from Real Madrid this season, Aurelien Tchouameni would be one of the top names in the running. The Frenchman has hit the ground running since his move to Spain and in some style.
In less than a month, he has already won over not only Carlo Ancelotti but the entire Real Madrid dressing room. Moreover, he is the only reason why the club are not feeling the void left by Casemiro.
The manager may have several midfield options at his disposal this season, but the Frenchman looks to be the one constant piece in the middle of the park. His treatment reminds one of Casemiro who was an undisputed name in the starting lineup week in and week out throughout his spell in Spain.
The midfielder got a rare day off for Los Blancos’ clash against Mallorca at the weekend and did not even feature off the bench. Fresh from his one-game hiatus, Tchouameni will be ready to start in the Champions League on Wednesday night and in the games to follow.
The youngster’s primary role on the field will undoubtedly be that of a natural pivot. He will have to hold the fort against a talented setup including Dominik Szoboszlai, Christopher Nkunku and Emil Forsberg. Yet, he will also look to provide a creative presence in midfield with his line-breaking passes and dictate the game.
2. First big test of the season
At first sight, RB Leipzig may appear as another stroll in the park for Real Madrid. After all, the Germans are struggling in tenth place in Bundesliga and have only two wins in six league games.
However, that is far from the case. The Germans will pose a massive threat at the Bernabeu and will be the biggest test so far for the hosts.
After Leipzig collapsed to a 4-1 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk last week, the management immediately fired Domenico Tedesco and replaced him with Marco Rose. The new manager did not require long to inspire his team and oversaw a 3-0 drubbing of Borussia Dortmund in his first game in charge.
Rose brings something fresh to Leipzig’s play with his tactical ideas. He is very attack-minded with his ideology and his teams usually play verticality and look to hit oppositions with speedy transitions.
The men in white have been shaky at the back this season and have conceded a goal in every La Liga game so far. Clearly, Real Madrid will have to be wary on Wednesday given their poor defensive record.
3. Can Rodrygo steal the show?
With Karim Benzema out of action for Los Blancos, the spotlight naturally turns to Vinicius Jr. The Brazilian international has been the team’s second most important forward after the French star and is seen as the biggest hope in front of goal.
However, there is another protege in the team who is pushing hard for a starting spot with his consistent performances. Rodrygo Goes may not be the flashiest player on the ball but his composure, ball control and knack for scoring make him a special player for Ancelotti’s side.
The youngster started Real Madrid’s game against Mallorca on Sunday and finished with a goal and an assist. He completed a whopping seven dribbles and made three key passes on the night.
His goal in itself was a thing of beauty. The 21-year-old wandered into the Mallorca box on his own and eliminated three defenders around him before calmly putting the ball into the net. His assist for Vinicius’ goal was no less and once again showed his ridiculous control on the ball.
As Los Blancos head into Wednesday’s game, Rodrygo will be determined to prove that he deserves as much if not more attention than his compatriot. Needless to say, there is no better stage to make a statement to the world than the Champions League.
The manager could look to start him in the role of a false nine against Leipzig, much like Eden Hazard in the last game. It may be a new role for the youngster, but he has the required skill set to excel in it.
If Rodrygo steps up tomorrow, Real Madrid will have no struggles in scoring without Benzema. Undoubtedly, all eyes will be on him at the Bernabeu.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Osasuna
After a two-week hiatus from club football, Real Madrid return to action on Sunday night in a home game against Osasuna. The league leaders have been unstoppable so far this season, and the objective at the Bernabeu will be to keep their fine form going.
Jagoba Arrasate’s side have enjoyed a positive start to the season with four wins in six games so far. The Pamplona-based side sit sixth in the league standings ahead of the likes of Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.
Carlo Ancelotti will make several changes in his starting lineup on the night – some forced and some out of choice. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Los Blancos’ weekend clash.
1. Time to kick in the nitros
Real Madrid have been flawless this season and are the only club in the European top-flight to have not dropped a single point. While their start to the season has been nothing short of a fairytale, one wonders how long they can keep the magical streak going.
The month of October brings with it one of the most hectic schedules the club has seen in recent years. Over the next 30 days, Los Blancos play nine games across all competitions. In short, the equation boils down to a game every three days.
To come out on top in all nine games will require a superhuman effort from the Real Madrid players, but one knows well that the squad is capable of it. The team are in a strong headspace, and injecting the right amount of fuel at this point could propel their throttle and see them weather the storm.
A job well begun is half done, and Carlo Ancelotti will hope that his men can make a strong start to the month on Sunday night.
2. Coping without Modric
The FIFA International break has been cruel to clubs across the globe, with several key players returning injured and facing several weeks on the sidelines. The story for Real Madrid is no different.
Luka Modric played every minute of Croatia’s two friendlies in the last two weeks and even scored a goal in their 3-1 win over Austria. However, he suffered an injury to his hip and faces 8-10 days on the sidelines.
The veteran, at 37 years of age, has arguably been Real Madrid’s best player this season. In eight games, he has scored two goals and provided one assist for Los Blancos and continues to show the world why he is one of the best the game has seen.
Modric is expected to return for the Clasico in two weeks. However, one cannot help but wonder how Ancelotti compensates for such a big void.
It has been reported that the manager sees Dani Ceballos as the ideal man for the job. The 26-year-old impressed when given the start against Mallorca earlier this season, making four key passes and bagging one assist. Now, he could have his moment and a chance to prove his worth to the manager.
In Modric’s absence, Ceballos could start alongside Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos in the middle of the park. With Eduardo Camavinga quickly climbing up the pecking order, the 26-year-old must make the most of his chance on Sunday to secure a place in the coming games.
3. The return of the gladiator
After a slow start to the season, Karim Benzema bounced back with a brace against Espanyol on Matchday three. Just when it seemed like he had found his stride, however, he suffered a thigh injury and was ruled out for close to three weeks.
While the team found alternate sources of goals in his absence, it was clear that Los Blancos lacked a dominant presence in the box in recent weeks. With Benzema’s recovery close to complete, all eyes will be on him to see if he can find his feet again.
In his pre-match press conference, Ancelotti confirmed that the French international would start on Sunday though it is unlikely that he will play all 90 minutes. Nevertheless, this comes as a big relief to Real Madrid, given that they have no natural replacement for the centre-forward.
The captain will look to make a statement on his return on Sunday and will likely be deployed alongside Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.