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Three talking points ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk vs Real Madrid



Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Fresh off their narrow win over Getafe, Real Madrid travel to the Stadion Wojska Polskiego in Warsaw to take on Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League.

The month of October has gone smoothly so far for the European Champions. They have picked up seven of a possible nine points and have found ways to grind out wins even under adverse conditions. Yet, there is a feeling that Real Madrid have not yet hit top gear and Carlo Ancelotti will look to change that ahead of the upcoming El Clasico.

The hosts are on a poor run of form themselves, having won just one of their last four games across all competitions. They currently sit second in their domestic league with four wins in five games but are winless in their last two European encounters.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid’s fourth UCL game of the season.

1. Wholesale rotations

That Real Madrid have one of Europe’s finest squads is a fact well known. Yet, there has not come a situation so far in the season where Carlo Ancelotti has been forced to rotate the team.

The month of October was known to bear a hectic schedule and it is fair to say that the toughest fixture of them all for Real Madrid is El Clasico. With the big clash less than a week away, the manager will look to rest his trump cards while giving a chance to subordinate players.

Thibaut Courtois will be unavailable for the game in Ukraine, thus giving Andriy Lunin yet another start between the sticks. Nacho Fernandez could get a start in central defence while Lucas Vazquez is likely to play as the right-back.

Eduardo Camavinga has been Los Blancos’ most disappointing midfielder this season. Tuesday’s clash comes as the perfect opportunity for the youngster to start and prove his doubters wrong. He could start alongside Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos, thus keeping Luka Modric fresh for the Clasico.

Karim Benzema was rested against Getafe and will start on Tuesday in the hope of regaining his match fitness and lost touch. However, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard could start in place of Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr respectively.

2. Spotlight on the forward line

Eyes on the prize. (Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

While changes are expected all over the field, there will be a special emphasis to see how the forward line performs in Warsaw after their underwhelming display at the weekend.

The focus will be on Karim Benzema primarily because the Ballon d’Or contender has struggled to get going so far this season. A combination of poor form and fitness concerns have overseen his sub-par start, and he will look to lead from the front once again when Real Madrid take on Shakhtar Donetsk.

Meanwhile, Asensio has been promising in his cameos this season and could produce fireworks if he starts on the night. The game could also see Hazard receive another chance to prove his mettle, though that train may well have sailed.

With Barcelona next on the calendar, Real Madrid will have to find their clinical finishing boots quickly.

3. The comfortable position in the UCL

Real Madrid are comfortably placed in their UEFA Champions League group with nine points in three games, five points above the second-placed team, Shakhtar Donetsk. They are followed closely by RB Leipzig with three, while Celtic sit at the bottom with just one point.

A win over the Ukrainian side would all but guarantee Los Blancos a table-top finish and give them at least a six-point lead over the competition. However, the men in white are under no pressure to win Tuesday’s game.

Even a loss in Poland would not hurt Real Madrid’s chances of topping their group. Needless to say, Ancelotti could look to use the situation to his advantage and focus on the more important game just beyond the horizon.

Not only the starting lineup but the tactics and substitutions against Shakhtar will be made keeping El Clasico in mind. While the suggestion may sound trivial, such intricacies often have a massive bearing on the result and Real Madrid will hope their prioritization reaps the reward on Sunday.

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Three talking points ahead of Sevilla vs Real Madrid



Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

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

Point to prove. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

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