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
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.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Granada | La Liga
Napoli fought tooth and nail for all three points against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this week. They took the early lead in the first half, then fought back to find an equaliser after Real Madrid put two past them.
In the end, however, they were outdone by the hosts’ resilience and never-say-die attitude. The result thus registered Real Madrid’s fourth win on the trot and twelfth game without a defeat.
The men in white must now look ahead to their next La Liga game scheduled to kick off in just over 24 hours. Faced against Granada in a critical matchday, the aim will be to take all three points and thus maintain a healthy position in the standings.
Ancelotti announced some key recoveries in his pre-match press conference and also confirmed that Jude Bellingham would be fit to participate on the evening. Yet, he is concurrently in a difficult moment in terms of squad fitness.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Granada vs Real Madrid.
A clash of two poles
While Ancelotti’s Real Madrid sit lavishly on the top of La Liga’s standings, their opponents for Saturday afternoon have quite a contrasting fate. Granada sit on the other end of the league table and find themselves in a desolate situation 14 match days into the season.
Granada are currently 19th in La Liga with just one win in 14 games, and have changed managers, with Alexander Medina replacing Paco Lopez. They have lost a staggering nine games and walked away with one point on four occasions.
Granada have only scored 19 goals all season while conceding on 33 occasions. Comparing the numbers to Real Madrid’s 31 goals scored and nine goals conceded speaks volumes about the form of both teams heading into tomorrow’s clash.
The visitors’ last win in La Liga came back in August, and it is safe to say that a victory vs Real Madrid will do them a world of good. They will be the underdogs at the Bernabeu, but nothing is impossible considering that they drew with Barcelona not so long ago.
Saturday’s clash will thus be interesting, to say the least. With the injury-inflicted league leaders taking on a relegation-threatened side, the script cannot be predicted.
The rising phenomenon
Real Madrid’s injury crisis has not been easy on the manager. Ancelotti has been forced to rework his dynamics time and time again with a new player falling prey to the endless pit in every game.
The Italian is now in a situation where he has only four players left in the middle of the park. Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, and Dani Ceballos all started Real Madrid’s last game but it was young Nico Paz who stole the headlines.
The youngster has risen to prominence in Los Blancos’ latest injury emergency and his prominence has only increased over the past weeks. In the team’s latest outing against Napoli, he was on the field for close to half an hour and scored a crucial goal in the 84th minute.
With a tight schedule ahead and limited resources at his disposal, Ancelotti must look to rotate his men in midfield. Paz, on that front, is the Italian gaffer’s best choice and must look to make the most of his minutes tomorrow.
The golden chance
The biggest talking point from La Liga so far has been Girona’s stunning run at the beginning of the season. The Catalan side surprised everyone with win after win and stole the headlines by retaining the sole lead in the league until match day 13.
After six straight wins, Athletic Club broke Girona’s streak last weekend with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Estadi Montilivi. Having dropped two points, they are now level with Real Madrid in the standings with 35 points in 14 games.
It will thus be Ancelotti’s objective to take all three points against Granada and make a strong push towards taking the lead over Girona. After all, the co-leaders face a difficult opponent in Valencia and could well drop points.
Moreover, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are set to face off later this weekend. One, or both of the Spanish giants will drop points on the night, thus giving Real Madrid further impetus to gun for all three points tomorrow.
Considering the team’s good run of form in recent games, the dressing room will be confident about securing the much-needed result.