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

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Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

The season has no respite for clubs, especially for those of Real Madrid’s stature. Balancing two competitions in tandem is no mean feat, and the addition of international fixtures to the calendar only aggravates the strain.

Real Madrid’s clash against Valencia later today brings an end to the latest stretch of six relentless clashes for Los Blancos. It brings with it the dawn of a new international break, after which another set of gruelling clashes awaits the players.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men will hope to close the phase on a high, but it is easier said than done. Valencia are a side in the ascendency, and with three wins in their last five games, match Real Madrid’s form in terms of results.

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

Lunin’s moment to shine

All eyes were on Andriy Lunin when Thibaut Courtois suffered an ACL injury early in the season. The Ukrainian international, after all, had just decided to stay at the club until the end of his contract and was struggling with a lack of minutes at the club.

Yet, the youngster never allowed his level on the field to drop. Even on his occasional and unexpected starts last season, he ensured to deliver a performance that demanded more prominence from the manager.

Lunin started in goal for Real Madrid’s season opener against Athletic Club where he enjoyed a relatively silent night. Los Blancos meanwhile signed Kepa Arrizabalaga as a temporary replacement in goal, and the team’s clash against Almeria ended up being Lunin’s last game for a while.

The former Chelsea goalkeeper took over as Ancelotti’s primary option in goal and has established himself as a reliable option, pushing Lunin back into the shadows. The 24-year-old returned to the field only midweek against Braga after the club announced Kepa’s injury.

The on-loan star is expected to miss the next few weeks and could make it in time after the international break. Tomorrow’s clash, thus, could be Lunin’s last chance to prove his worth to the manager.

The Ukrainian star delivered a special performance against Braga, making four saves including one penalty stop. Further, two saves came from inside the box. Against Valencia, he will look to maintain his level or even take it up a notch.

Back with Bellingham

Set to return to the lineup. (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

An awkward landing on his shoulder against Rayo Vallecano forced Jude Bellingham to sit the game against Braga out. He was in the squad, but the manager and administration preferred to allow him to rest and ensure complete fitness.

His shoulder dislocation was never expected to rule him out for more than one game, and the player could well be ready to return to the starting lineup tonight. If Ancelotti’s comments in the pre-game press conference are anything to go by, there is a good chance of that happening.

“The player says he is comfortable. He trained normally today. He is available. If nothing unusual happens in the last few hours, I think he will play,” the manager said.

For starters, Bellingham’s return to the lineup would displace Brahim Diaz, one of the heroes of Real Madrid’s midweek UCL clash. The youngster played a key role in Los Blancos’ result, even scoring a goal on the night. Yet, displacing Bellingham given the form he is in would be close to impossible.

Further, the English protege’s return will ensure that Real Madrid return to a more tangible 4-4-2 diamond formation in possession as Bellingham thrives in the area behind the forwards.

No room for complacency

Twelve games into La Liga EA Sports, Real Madrid sit on 29 points. They have won nine of their games so far, losing just once against Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona, the defending champions, are not far behind with 27 points as they took a blow with the Clasico defeat. Atletico Madrid lurk right behind the Catalans with just two points less, albeit with a game in hand.

There is thus not much that separates the three giants of Spanish football, as has always been the case in La Liga in recent seasons. The surprise comes when one looks above Real Madrid in the standings.

Shockingly, yet commendably, Girona sit at the pinnacle of the La Liga standings almost a third into the season. Michel’s men have been in emphatic form this season, winning ten of their twelve league matches and losing just once to Real Madrid.

With 29 goals scored in twelve games, they top the league in terms of goals as well and currently sit two points clear of Los Blancos.

Girona have proved that their position is no miracle and that they are genuine contenders for the title. Needless to say, it is high time Real Madrid buckle up and churn out consistent results in La Liga again. After all, they have drawn two of their last three games in Spain and were lucky to get the win against Barcelona as well.

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Features

Euro 2024: Rating every Real Madrid player’s performance at the tournament

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Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

The UEFA Euro 2024 came to an end last night with Spain being crowned the champions of Europe thanks to a 2-1 victory over England in Berlin.

Considering how well La Roja played throughout the tournament and their performance in the finals on Sunday night, they were the deserved winners of the trophy.

With Spain lifting the trophy, Real Madrid veteran defender Dani Carvajal added another title to his already successful campaign finishing 2023/24 as a La Liga, Champions League, and EURO winner.

Nacho and Joselu, who were still contracted with Real Madrid when the Euro started, joined Carvajal on that list while Jude Bellingham finished on the losing side.

Real Madrid had a total of 13 players representing them at the Euros in Germany and not all managed to make a solid impression. Here are how the Merengues’ stars fared at the European Championships.

Spain

Dani Carvajal: 8/10

The Spanish right-back was one of the stars of the show at the Euros, playing an integral role in La Roja’s success. Carvajal kicked off his first Euro with a goal in the opening game against Croatia and continued to be a reliable player for Spain both in defence and attack.

Carvajal forged a strong partnership with Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal on the right flank and even played a key role in the team’s opening goal against England in the final.

Nacho: 6/10

Technically no longer a Real Madrid player, Nacho was still contracted with the club when the Euros kicked off. Starting in the opener against Croatia, he helped Spain to a clean sheet against Croatia.

The veteran defender also put in solid shifts in the quarter-final and semi-final ties against Germany and France, respectively and helped see out the game against England last night.

Joselu: N/A

Behind the likes of Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal in the pecking order, Joselu, who left Real Madrid at the end of June, played just 90 minutes across two games.

England

Jude Bellingham: 6.5/10

Failed to deliver. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Having enjoyed a dream season with Real Madrid, Jude Bellingham was unable to replicate those performances for England.

While he did score two crucial goals, including a stunning bicycle kick to keep his team alive against Slovakia, and assisted Cole Palmer’s strike in the finals, his overall display left a lot to be desired.

France

Kylian Mbappe: 6/10

Real Madrid’s newest acquisition, all eyes were on Mbappe heading into the Euros. And even though France made it as far as the semi-finals, the 25-year-old failed to live up to the expectations with a nose injury impacting his displays.

Mbappe finished the tournament with a solitary goal and two assists, but as he admitted after the defeat to Spain, his Euro will go down as a failure.

Aurelien Tchouameni: 6/10

Making a return from injury during the tournament, the Real Madrid midfielder was a solid presence in the centre of the park for France alongside N’Golo Kante without really standing out a great deal.

The 24-year-old provided strength and stability in midfield for Les Bleus and even tried to get upfield in matches. But his shooting from distance was way off the mark.

Not up to the mark. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Eduardo Camavinga: 5/10

Starting just one of France’s six games and featuring as a substitute in three more, Eduardo Camavinga was not a major presence for Didier Deschamps’ side at the Euros which came as a surprise.

The Real Madrid starlet did show glimpses of quality when he did get a chance but not enough for him to make an impact.

Ferland Mendy: N/A

Having made a return to the France setup for the first time since 2022, Mendy did not play a single minute at the Euros, with former Real Madrid left-back, Theo Hernandez being preferred by the manager.

Germany

Antonio Rudiger: 7/10

Carrying on from where he left off for Real Madrid, Rudiger was a solid presence at the heart of the German defence at the Euros in his homeland.

Came up against some tricky forwards throughout the hosts’ quarterfinal run but did well to hold his own, but was guilty of losing Mikel Merino for Spain’s goal that eliminated Germany.

Toni Kroos: 6.5/10

It was not a fairytale ending for Kroos, who waved goodbye to his international career with a forgettable display against Spain during which he could have been easily sent off for the array of fouls he committed.

Prior to that, however, Kroos was instrumental for Germany in their run until the quarterfinals, stringing play together from the centre of the park.

Turkey

Arda Guler: 7/10

Arda Guler made a good impression at the Euros. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

One of the breakout stars of the Euros, Arda Guler showcased his talent and potential, helping Turkey to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

The 19-year-old started off with a wonder-goal against Georgia and also added two assists to his tally in his first major tournament, following in the footsteps of greats like Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. A bright future awaits.

Croatia

Luka Modric: 6/10

Unlike recent years, Luka Modric’s Croatia were unable to get past the group stages, with the veteran midfielder finishing the tournament with a goal from under 240 minutes.

Ukraine

Andriy Lunin: 2/10

Started the tournament as Ukraine’s No. 1 against Romania but made costly errors that saw him lose his place in the starting XI. Did not feature again after the opener as his team crashed out of the group stages.

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