Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Villarreal
Villarreal are one of the few La Liga teams Real Madrid have consistently struggled against. The Yellow Submarines are a tough nut to crack, and recent results between the sides tell all there is to know about their equation.
The two teams met earlier this season at Estadio de La Ceramica in La Liga in January. Quique Setien’s men got the better of Real Madrid on the night with a 63rd-minute goal by Gerard Moreno.
They met again two weeks later, this time in the Round of 16 of the Copa del Rey. Once again, Villarreal went 2-0 up early in the game but an inspired second-half comeback saw Los Blancos advance in the competition.
The Merengues have failed to win against the Yellow Submarines in their last three La Liga meetings and thus head into Saturday’s clash with a point to prove. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Villarreal.
1. The dream run
The version of Real Madrid that returned after the international break has been something special. The Merengues found themselves under serious pressure after the league Clasico defeat to Barcelona last month, but their last two performances have brushed it off.
Los Blancos returned to club football with a 6-0 demolition of Real Valladolid at the Santiago Bernabeu. A Karim Benzema hattrick and all-round performances from Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo, and Marco Asensio announced to the world Real Madrid’s intent to conquer the competitions they remained in.
Four days later, they faced off against Barcelona in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal and pulled off a stunning 4-0 win to turn around the tie. To have scored ten goals in two games with none conceded speaks volumes of Real Madrid’s form.
The Merengues will look to keep their dream run alive on Saturday and right until the end of the season, for very few teams in world football can claim to outplay them in such a moment.
Benzema and Real Madrid’s return to form could not have come at a better time. Carlo Ancelotti must look to sustain the momentum and keep it going, for the UEFA Champions League and Cup are theirs to lose.
2. A balancing act
A key takeaway from Ancelotti’s press conference was his confidence that the La Liga race was far from over. The Italian’s stance may seem amusing at first considering Barcelona’s 12-point lead. However, nothing can be predicted in the world of sports.
It would indeed be the most professional and spirited approach for Real Madrid to fight for La Liga with their all. The question that looms is – How far is Ancelotti willing to invest in a race that appears lost?
The Merengues face stiff opposition on Saturday in Villarreal. The Yellow Submarines have been a thorn in the capital club’s side in recent years with three draws and a win in their last six meetings.
The three points at home are crucial for Real Madrid’s tiny title hopes. However, the Champions League quarterfinal scheduled just four days later assumes more importance.
The Italian tactician might thus be tempted to rotate his squad on the night to rest his veterans after El Clasico. He finds himself on a tightrope between La Liga and the Champions League and would ideally wish to stay unperturbed on both fronts.
The defence and attack could likely be largely unchanged in the game against Villarreal but chances in midfield are guaranteed.
One could expect Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to drop to the bench with Dani Ceballos and Aurelien Tchouameni taking their places. Federico Valverde will also get a run in midfield and Camavinga could continue at left-back.
3. Tchouameni’s time to shine
Aurelien Tchouameni made a strong start to his career in Spain. Just weeks after his arrival, the media hailed him as the ‘new Casemiro’ and it reached a stage where Ancelotti could not imagine a midfield without the Frenchman at its base.
The FIFA World Cup changed everything. A combination of poor form and fitness problems brought Tchouameni down the pecking order, forcing the manager to turn towards Eduardo Camavinga as a replacement. Since then, there has been no turning back.
Camavinga took his opportunity with both hands and began delivering midfield masterclasses with unreal consistency. The 20-year-old soon displaced his compatriot as Los Blancos’ regular starter and sent him into the shadows.
Tchouameni has started only one of Real Madrid’s last four games across all competitions. He notably was on the bench against Liverpool and both clashes against Barcelona.
Ferland Mendy’s injury could force Camavinga to start at left-back yet again tomorrow, opening up the door for the 23-year-old to start. Tchouameni has a point to prove to Ancelotti on Saturday and will thus look to bring his A-game to the table against tricky opposition.
Three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Real Valladolid was far from convincing. They may have been the more effective side, but the Merengues were far from being the better team against Andoni Iraola’s men.
Saturday brings with it the team’s penultimate game of the campaign as Real Madrid take on Sevilla. The Andalusian side have not been impressive in La Liga this season but have always been one to turn up against the big teams. Tomorrow’s game is expected to be no different.
Carlo Ancelotti is expected to make drastic changes ahead of kickoff, especially given the incomplete squad travelling for the game. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid.
1. Final game on the road
The 2022-23 season has flown by in the blink of an eye. It may have been a rocky campaign and could have ended with better results, but there is a feeling that the squad has a lot to take away from the season as it is.
From the highs of completing a special Copa del Rey comeback win over Barcelona to the lows of losing three successive Clasicos, the men in white have seen it all. As the season now approaches the curtain-closing phase, Carlo Ancelotti and his men will be eager for a strong finish.
Sunday night will see the Merengues‘ final away game of the season as they travel to Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan to take on Sevilla. The 2021-22 champions have not had the best of seasons on the road in La Liga this season and a statement finish would go a long way in boosting the morale.
Sevilla have been far from their best this campaign domestically. Though they are well placed to taste glory in the UEFA Europa League once again, they languish in tenth place on the league standings with just 13 wins in 36 games.
Los Blancos boast a fine record at Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and are unbeaten at the stadium in their last eight appearances. Their last defeat at the venue came back in 2018, and the objective tonight will be to extend the aforementioned streak.
2. Tchouameni’s point to prove
As much as Aurelien Tchouameni’s initial months at the club were called paradise, the Frenchman has not had life easy at Real Madrid in his first season.
The Frenchman initially stepped in as a more than able replacement for Casemiro in the middle of the park. His astute reading of the game and defensive awareness made him a monster in midfield and his position in the starting lineup appeared safe.
Tchouameni’s situation, however, took a steep turn after the FIFA World Cup. Coming back from a fatiguing World Cup and a minor niggle, the defensive midfielder no longer found his name on the starting lineup as he became second fiddle to Eduardo Camavinga.
The entry of Toni Kroos as an option for the pivot role further reduced the Frenchman’s involvement.
The youngster thus has a point to prove on Sunday night. He is expected to start at the Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and will look to orchestrate the team’s play from deep in midfield whilst holding the fortress simultaneously. After all, it could be his final chance to prove his worth ahead of the new season.
3. Only three forwards
Real Madrid’s squad list only names three forwards making the trip to Seville to take on Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side – Rodrygo Goes, Eden Hazard, and Alvaro Rodriguez.
The manager does have a fourth option in Federico Valverde and could look to mix and match his options on the night. However, Carlo Ancelotti maintained a low profile on the starting lineup ahead of Sunday’s clash, especially when asked about Eden Hazard’s chances of participating.
Given that it is the team’s penultimate game of the season, Ancelotti could well look to start all three pure forwards on the night. After all, each has their own special reason to participate.
For Hazard, the game against Sevilla could well be his final away game in a Real Madrid shirt. The Belgian is reluctant to leave the club at the moment, but everything could change in June if he begins to attract interest.
In Alvaro Rodriguez’s case, tomorrow’s game presents itself as an audition to seal a place in next season’s dynamics. The youngster has impressed whenever given the chance so far and will look to keep his high level going.
Rodrygo Goes, arguably, needs the game the least of the three candidates. Yet, with Ancelotti publicly asking him to take more prominence, he has a point to prove.