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Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad | La Liga

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

Not many clubs in the world fancy playing Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. Performing against an ocean of white in the stands is one of the most numbing feelings a professional footballer can experience, and the pressure often leads to a collapse.

Real Sociedad, however, are one of the few who have an impressive record at the venue. The Basque outfit have lost just one of their last four and two of their last six games at the Bernabeu.

Taking all three points on Sunday is easier said than done for Carlo Ancelotti’s men. But a win would be a real statement of intent towards Real Madrid’s dream of lifting this season’s league title.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Real Sociedad.

Maintaining the momentum

Four games in the new season of La Liga, and Real Madrid remains the only team to have won each of their match, albeit not always convincingly, and sit two points clear of their nearest competitors.

The international break provides players with some much-needed break from the cycle of club football. Yet, it is often immediately after a hiatus that a team head into a purple patch, and Real Madrid must be wary of the same.

At this stage in La Liga, Carlo Ancelotti’s men must hold on to their small lead and look to broaden the gap with their competition. Real Sociedad, on that front, will pose serious problems to the leaders.

Of their past 11 meetings, the Basque side have won four times and split the spoils on three occasions. The record in recent seasons is thus evenly split.

Moreover, Imanol Alguacil’s side won against Real Madrid in their most recent meeting with a dominant 2-0 scoreline with captain Dani Carvajal even seeing a red card during the proceedings.

All eyes will thus be on the hosts to see if they can get past their recent nemesis on Sunday. After all, the momentum could not be more on their side.

One key return

Back in contention. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos had returned to training. However, there was still a cloud of doubt over his participation at the weekend.

Carlo Ancelotti confirmed in his pre-game press conference that the Spaniard was indeed ready for selection and had received the medical all-clear. However, Ferland Mendy is yet to make a comeback.

“Ceballos will be [available] against Real [Sociedad], but Mendy will not. He has to continue with his plan. We have to get him in when he is 100% ready and I think he will be in the squad on Wednesday,” Ancelotti said.

With Ceballos back on the roster, Ancelotti finally has all seven midfielders available at his disposal for the first time this season. After all, the 27-year-old was injured even prior to the preseason tour.

His dilemma now will be the manner in which he is to rotate the available stars. With Jude Bellingham and Aurelien Tchouameni almost assured starters, he must find roles for Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Ceballos, Brahim Diaz, and Federico Valverde.

The Spaniard’s recovery thus brings a good problem to the manager’s doorstep. 

The English X-factor

Truth be told, Los Blancos have been far from their convincing selves so far this season. Yet, they have found ways to win purely through their grit and never-say-die attitude.

The men in white went a goal down early against Almeria and were forced to make a comeback at the Power Horse Stadium on Matchday 2.

Against Celta Vigo one week later, they were at a stalemate ten minutes from time when Jude Bellingham scored a peach to secure the win.

The story was not much more comfortable against Getafe in their most recent outing. Real Madrid were tied at 1-1 even at the 90-minute mark on the night when Bellingham netted a last-minute winner for his side.

The team’s wins have thus quite clearly depended on individual brilliance from their new signing who now has five goals and an assist in four appearances. However, relying on his magical boots is not a sustainable way forward.

On Sunday, Los Blancos must thus look to put up a comprehensive show and script a convincing win against the Basque side. Not only will it serve as a statement of quality to the world but will also come as a confidence booster to the dressing room.

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Features

Real Madrid’s best lineup next season with Kroos retiring, Mbappe and Endrick joining

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Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

It is set up to be a transformative summer for Real Madrid. After the UEFA Champions League final has concluded and the grand showdown finally has a victor, the Merengues are expected to undergo a squad revamp.

Indeed, the Santiago Bernabeu is preparing to welcome several high-profile signings, while also bidding farewell to some beloved Madrid legends.

Considering the potential arrivals of Kylian Mbappe and Endrick, as well as Toni Kroos’ recent retirement, here is how Real Madrid could shape up next season:

Goalkeeper

Having made a long-awaited return from injury, Thibaut Courtois is anticipated to guard Real Madrid’s goal next season once more.

The Belgian goalie has already started featuring in the starting XI and is expected to play against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final, too.

As such, his place for next season is hardly in doubt. However, unlike previous seasons, he will face much fiercer competition from Andriy Lunin, who has enjoyed a stellar campaign.

Defence

Fortifications in the defensive line remain high on Real Madrid’s priority list in the upcoming summer transfer window. However, even with the given options the Royal Whites boast assurance and grit in their back-line.

The likely occupants on the flanks would be Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy, who have both produced great exhibitions throughout the campaign.

Ferland Mendy has the full trust of Carlo Ancelotti. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Carvajal is known to punish defensive lines and on the defensive end, his anticipation of forwards has been equally appreciable.

Meanwhile, Mendy’s resurgence this season has earned him immense faith from the coaching staff, as his defensive aptitude continues to set him apart.

In the centre-back positions, Real Madrid are expected to rely on the dependable figures of Antonio Rudiger and Eder Militao.

Real Madrid consider Rudiger to be indispensable owing to his front-footed style and the important role he has had to play amidst the injury crisis. Similarly, Militao is valued by the team as he proceeds to regain match fitness after recovering from a long-term injury.

Midfield

The void of Toni Kroos in midfield will compel coach Carlo Ancelotti and co. to
reconsider their midfield strategy.

Real Madrid will be unable to count on Kroos next season. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Thankfully for Real Madrid, their succession stage had begun a while ago and they have ample options to trust in the center of the park.

With Aurelien Tchouameni protecting the base of midfield, Real Madrid will possess security and deep progression.

Ahead, occupying the interior midfield positions, Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga are well-suited to provide a combination of energy off the ball and threat in possession.

And to put the cherry on top, Jude Bellingham’s place as the number 10 behind the two strikers would certify his status as a pivotal playmaker and scorer in the team’s setup.

However, he is adept at making third-man runs and connecting the midfield with the offence and could play deeper to not only make up for Kroos’ absence but also facilitate more options up front.

Attack

Real Madrid’s offensive department is where the largest reform is expected to take place.

Kylian Mbappe’s goalscoring instincts need little introduction by now and he is thus anticipated to be fielded as the striker.

Vinicius Jr. is expected to take up the position as a secondary striker drifting from the left, something he has become quite accustomed to this season.

Endrick will have to battle for a starting spot. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

It is worth noting that Endrick could also play a part by either replacing Vinicius off the bench and playing off Mbappe.

It remains to be seen how many men forward Ancelotti will commit to but the presence of Mbappe and Vinicius seems set in stone, given their huge profiles and status in world football. How the manager uses Rodrygo Goes will be interesting to see as well.

All in all, considering Ancelotti’s proficiency in profiling players, Madrid fans can expect to see these stars play in favourable environments.

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