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 Granada | La Liga
Napoli fought tooth and nail for all three points against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this week. They took the early lead in the first half, then fought back to find an equaliser after Real Madrid put two past them.
In the end, however, they were outdone by the hosts’ resilience and never-say-die attitude. The result thus registered Real Madrid’s fourth win on the trot and twelfth game without a defeat.
The men in white must now look ahead to their next La Liga game scheduled to kick off in just over 24 hours. Faced against Granada in a critical matchday, the aim will be to take all three points and thus maintain a healthy position in the standings.
Ancelotti announced some key recoveries in his pre-match press conference and also confirmed that Jude Bellingham would be fit to participate on the evening. Yet, he is concurrently in a difficult moment in terms of squad fitness.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Granada vs Real Madrid.
A clash of two poles
While Ancelotti’s Real Madrid sit lavishly on the top of La Liga’s standings, their opponents for Saturday afternoon have quite a contrasting fate. Granada sit on the other end of the league table and find themselves in a desolate situation 14 match days into the season.
Granada are currently 19th in La Liga with just one win in 14 games, and have changed managers, with Alexander Medina replacing Paco Lopez. They have lost a staggering nine games and walked away with one point on four occasions.
Granada have only scored 19 goals all season while conceding on 33 occasions. Comparing the numbers to Real Madrid’s 31 goals scored and nine goals conceded speaks volumes about the form of both teams heading into tomorrow’s clash.
The visitors’ last win in La Liga came back in August, and it is safe to say that a victory vs Real Madrid will do them a world of good. They will be the underdogs at the Bernabeu, but nothing is impossible considering that they drew with Barcelona not so long ago.
Saturday’s clash will thus be interesting, to say the least. With the injury-inflicted league leaders taking on a relegation-threatened side, the script cannot be predicted.
The rising phenomenon
Real Madrid’s injury crisis has not been easy on the manager. Ancelotti has been forced to rework his dynamics time and time again with a new player falling prey to the endless pit in every game.
The Italian is now in a situation where he has only four players left in the middle of the park. Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, and Dani Ceballos all started Real Madrid’s last game but it was young Nico Paz who stole the headlines.
The youngster has risen to prominence in Los Blancos’ latest injury emergency and his prominence has only increased over the past weeks. In the team’s latest outing against Napoli, he was on the field for close to half an hour and scored a crucial goal in the 84th minute.
With a tight schedule ahead and limited resources at his disposal, Ancelotti must look to rotate his men in midfield. Paz, on that front, is the Italian gaffer’s best choice and must look to make the most of his minutes tomorrow.
The golden chance
The biggest talking point from La Liga so far has been Girona’s stunning run at the beginning of the season. The Catalan side surprised everyone with win after win and stole the headlines by retaining the sole lead in the league until match day 13.
After six straight wins, Athletic Club broke Girona’s streak last weekend with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Estadi Montilivi. Having dropped two points, they are now level with Real Madrid in the standings with 35 points in 14 games.
It will thus be Ancelotti’s objective to take all three points against Granada and make a strong push towards taking the lead over Girona. After all, the co-leaders face a difficult opponent in Valencia and could well drop points.
Moreover, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are set to face off later this weekend. One, or both of the Spanish giants will drop points on the night, thus giving Real Madrid further impetus to gun for all three points tomorrow.
Considering the team’s good run of form in recent games, the dressing room will be confident about securing the much-needed result.