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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Real Betis



Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images

Only two teams boast a perfect winning record so far in La Liga: Real Madrid and Real Betis. Both teams stand on nine points in the league standings and are first and second in the table respectively.

That could change as La Liga heads into its fourth matchday. Real Madrid and Betis face each other on Saturday at Santiago Bernabeu and either one or both of the teams will certainly lose their perfect start to the season.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side dished out a fine opening-day performance over Elche, scoring three times and maintaining a clean sheet. They then defeated Mallorca by a 2-1 margin before edging a 1-0 win over Osasuna.

Meanwhile, Los Blancos have been going from strength to strength since their Matchday 1 scare against Almeria. In the subsequent games, Carlo Ancelotti’s side scored seven goals and conceded just two.

The clash at the Bernabeu could well be the most awaited game of the weekend. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Los Blancos’ weekend clash.

1. The concerning lack of a clean sheet

Last season, Thibaut Courtois stood second on the list of goalkeepers with the most clean-sheets. Only Alex Remiro of Real Sociedad boasted a better record than the Belgian international who achieved it in 16 league games.

However, that form has not continued to the new season. While Courtois has been magnificent in all three games so far, he has conceded one goal in every game.

Against Almeria, the shot-stopper failed to save Largie Ramazani’s effort in just the sixth minute. Needless to say, the early setback did not help Real Madrid’s case.

Just six minutes after Karim Benzema gave Los Blancos the lead over Celta Vigo, Courtois conceded the equaliser at the other end. A similar situation repeated itself against Espanyol when Joselu scored the equaliser past the Belgian late in the first half, killing Real Madrid’s lead on the night.

Given that the team have failed to maintain a single clean sheet in three games, all eyes undoubtedly turn to the goalkeeper. Yet, one knows that several other factors are involved.

For starters, the defence of the team is equally responsible for the goals conceded. From a broader angle, every player on the field can be held answerable for the same.

On Saturday, Real Madrid will look to put an end to the unwanted streak. Needless to say, it will take a special performance from the defenders and goalkeepers to deny a side like Los Verdiblancos of a goal in ninety minutes.

2. A real test for Aurelien Tchouameni

The world turned upside down for Real Madrid’s new signing Aurelien Tchouameni when Casemiro announced his departure from the club. All of a sudden, the Frenchman was under pressure to perform at the highest level, week in and week out, in a new environment.

With the pressure on his shoulders, he started for Los Blancos against Celta Vigo two weeks ago. At the end of ninety minutes, he was arguably the best player on the field.

On the night, he recorded three key passes, three successful dribbles, four clearances, three interceptions, two tackles, seven duels won and a blocked shot. A week later, he again impressed with his all-round performance against Espanyol. Moreover, he also provided his first assist for the club.

The youngster will look to ride on the wave of momentum ahead of the clash against Betis, for it will not be an easy task by any means.

The Seville-based side have an incredibly reliable double pivot of William Carvalho and Guido Rodriguez who will not be easy customers, although the former is a doubt. Tchouameni will also have to handle the guile and deception of Nabil Fekir who is amongst the most technically gifted playmakers in the league.

3. Tinkering with the full-backs

Carvajal or Vazquez at right-back? (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Carlo Ancelotti made some surprising decisions ahead of Real Madrid’s game against Espanyol last week. For the game at RCDE Stadium, neither of the first-choice full-backs started.

Dani Carvajal was benched on the night as Lucas Vazquez started at right-back while David Alaba started at left-back ahead of Ferland Mendy.

The results, however, were mixed. Alaba did not have the best of nights defensively, losing possession six times and making an error that directly led to a shot. Vazquez did better in defence but lacked the cutting edge going forward.

Heading into a crucial match, the manager could look to entrust the right-back duty to Carvajal. His experience will come in handy against the likes of Juanmi and Alex Moreno down the flank.

The left-back situation is not as clear. Mendy may be the first-choice starter, but the Frenchman has often struggled to make an impact in the final third. The race to start is open between Alaba and Mendy, and it remains to be seen as to whom Ancelotti trusts.

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Three talking points ahead of RCD Mallorca vs Real Madrid



Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid have seldom struggled against RCD Mallorca in recent years. The men in white have scored a whopping 15 goals in their last four games against the Palma-based side and their last loss versus them came back in 2019.

If this season’s numbers are anything to go by, however, it would be wrong to overlook Javier Aguirre’s side. Mallorca have won seven of their nineteen La Liga games so far and sit in tenth place with 25 points.

While they have not scored a lot this campaign, they have conceded the fourth-least goals in the Spanish top flight and have an excellent defensive record.

Real Madrid play Mallorca before Barcelona’s game on Sunday and have a chance to reduce the deficit at the top of the table to two points temporarily if they can win at Son Moix.

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

1. Tchouameni time again?

Aurelien Tchouameni spent close to a month on the sidelines after hobbling off injured in Real Madrid’s clash against Villarreal last month.

In the defensive midfielder’s absence, Carlo Ancelotti was forced to patch the void with unconventional options including Dani Ceballos, Eduardo Camavinga and Toni Kroos as the pivot.

The Frenchman finally made his awaited comeback to the squad in the team’s game against Valencia midweek. As he was returning from a relatively long time on the sidelines, Ancelotti preferred to have him start on the bench.

Tchouameni eventually entered the field in the 66th minute of the game when Toni Kroos asked to be substituted out for precaution. In his 24 minutes on the field, the youngster was almost flawless with 97% passes completed and 100% accurate long balls.

As Los Blancos gear up to play their second game in three days, the time could be right to re-incorporate the 23-year-old into the starting lineup. After all, Tchouameni has been one of Real Madrid’s most consistent players this season and it is glaringly clear that they have missed him in recent weeks.

2. Two more casualties

No Benzema and Militao (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

The men in white produced 90 minutes of high-quality football against Los Che on Thursday and reduced the gap with Barcelona to a mere five points. However, the cost of the win was far more than what the manager would have liked to pay.

In return for the three points, Real Madrid saw Karim Benzema and Eder Militao leave the field with injuries to rub salt into Ancelotti’s fresh wounds.

The captain is expected to miss the next two games at least, leaving his team once again without a central striker. In Benzema’s absence, Ancelotti will have to put on his thinking hat and field a forward line that not only creates threats but also has the cutting edge to convert them.

Militao is also unavailable for Sunday’s game. With the Brazilian centre-back ruled out, Real Madrid will likely field a combination of Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez against Mallorca. After all, David Alaba is also returning fresh from injury and might not be fit to start the game.

3. Can Camavinga convince again?

It is almost criminal that a club of Real Madrid’s stature do not have a natural backup for the left-back position.

Ferland Mendy has been Ancelotti’s most preferred position in the player throughout the season. David Alaba was seen as a possible backup option, and though the Austrian International is capable of playing that role, he does not fancy the left-back position anymore.

When Mendy limped off injured in Real Madrid’s game against Atletico Madrid, Eduardo Camavinga thus emerged as a surprise option to fill his shoes. The youngster started the next two games at left-back and did a reasonable job, even earning praise from the manager.

With Tchouameni back running for the Merengues, the left-back role is the only available vacancy for the French International to claim a starting spot.

With Alaba returning, if Camavinga wishes for continuity as a starter, he must produce another exceptional display on Sunday and stake claim as the left-back until Mendy returns.

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