Real Madrid travelled to the Estadio Ramon de Carranza to take on Cadiz on Sunday. Despite the 49 point gap separating the two teams, the game was a close affair with the lower-placed side seemingly better at times.
Despite Ancelotti’s side recording over 60% possession on the night, it was Cadiz who presented constant threats in attack. The hosts recorded 21 shots on the night, including five shots blocked and three big chances missed.
Mariano Diaz’s opener was quickly cancelled out by Ruben Sorino in the first half. Neither side was able to find the back of the net in the second half, and the sides split the points.
The draw puts Cadiz on level points with Mallorca and presents them with a realistic chance of avoiding relegation. Here are three talking points from Cadiz vs Real Madrid.
1. A new look side at the Carranza
Real Madrid have both their eyes set on the Champions League final. With the domestic title sealed, every game is an opportunity for the manager to rest some key players and test his bench strength.
On Sunday, the starting XI once again consisted of a combination of experience and bench players. With the result being inconsequential, a weakened team did no harm to Real Madrid’s cause.
Thibaut Courtois has been one of Los Blancos‘ standout players this season, but was unwell for this game. In his place, the young Andriy Lunin got a start and did not let his manager down.
While central defence remained untouched, Ancelotti decided not to risk Ferland Mendy at left-back on the night. Marcelo’s injury meant that a new face would have to cover the defensive position, and Lucas Vazquez was the one given that responsibility.
At right-back, Jesus Vallejo recieved a deserved start after a spectacular display against Levante.
Not much rotation was seen in midfield with Toni Kroos and Casemiro playing from the opening minute. The only change was Federico Valverde for Luka Modric.
Both Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr were excluded from the team at the Carranza in preparation for the game in Paris. In their place, Mariano Diaz and Rodrygo started alongside Marco Asensio in the final third.
2. Andriy Lunin: the new hero
One would expect Thibaut Courtois’ backup goalkeeper to be a downgrade when held against the Belgian’s astronomical standards. However, Andriy Lunin provided a performance on Sunday that even the best of the best would be proud of.
In 90 minutes, the Ukrainian international made six saves, including five from inside the box. His performance even included a saved penalty, two high claims and two clearances.
Oussama Idrissi was the first Cadiz player to test Lunin in the first half with a tenacious shot. A few minutes later, Sobrino produced a colossal strike to put the ball past the 23-year-old.
Negredo combined with Perez at the hour mark in a move that saw the latter released free in front of goal. The Spaniard went down in the area and the referee pointed to the spot.
The forward tried placing his spot-kick to the right side, but his effort was timid, and Lunin pounced on it to deny them the lead. He was called into action again seven minutes later when he had to deny Negredo from inside the box.
In the 70th minute, Cadiz had what was their best chance of the game. Negredo’s cross was blocked by Lunin again, before then reaching Sobrino on the rebound.
3. The return of Toni Kroos
After a run of poor games, Toni Kroos once again ruled the midfield at the Carranza. The German was unplayable on the night, and possibly Real Madrid’s best player after Lunin.
In 90 minutes, the World Cup winner created a whopping four chances and had an xA of 0.3. He finished the game with a passing accuracy of 96% and completed all 17 attempted long balls on the night.
Defensive, Kroos was on point throughout the game. He produced two clearances, two-headed clearances, eight recoveries, and won four tackles.
Kroos’ return to form comes as music to the ears of Real Madrid fans. Ahead of the biggest game of the year, having their three midfield stars at their imperious best will certainly give the team a massive boost in confidence.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Sevilla | La Liga GW 26
As one of the few teams that managed to take a point off Real Madrid in the first half of the season, Rayo Vallecano was seen as a dangerous opponent as Los Blancos prepared for matchday 25 of La Liga.
True to the expectation, the visitors gave Real Madrid a run for their money and managed to salvage a draw once more.
Matchday 26, thus, presents yet another steep challenge for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. The men in white lock horns with Sevilla, one of the few other teams that managed to hold them to a draw in their previous encounter.
It has not been an easy season for Los Nervionenses as they linger in 15th place after 25 games. However, they have shown time and time again that they have resilience and they will trouble the Merengues without a doubt.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Sevilla.
An emotional, yet emotion-less affair
The one headline flooding the news ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Sevilla this weekend is about Sergio Ramos. The former Real Madrid captain faced Los Blancos earlier this season at Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and showed that he still had it in him to play at the top level, but tomorrow’s clash will be special for reasons beyond the sporting sense.
The Spanish superstar captained one of the Merengues’ greatest units in history and saw them make their way to back-to-back titles for years. His departure from the club, however, was almost anti-climactic as he left as a free agent in 2021.
Tomorrow night will be the first time the club legend steps foot on the grasses of the Santiago Bernabeu since his departure. A return to the stadium he once called home can only be described as an emotional affair.
Moreover, the club administration have even arranged for a small emotional tribute to the player who took them to great heights in the last decade, amplifying the sense of nostalgia.
Concurrently, however, both Ramos and Real Madrid are fiercely competitive and do not see nostalgia as any reason for sympathy. Once the referee blows the whistle, there will be no love lost between the two parties.
Real Madrid will be forced to go up against the monster they created, while Ramos will be equally motivated to show the management what they lost by passing on him. In either case, the game will be driven by passion and will not be affected one bit by the background story.
Two suspensions, one return
In addition to his long list of injuries, Carlo Ancelotti has a new factor to consider before deploying his starting XI on Sunday night. After all, two players are out through suspension – Dani Carvajal and Eduardo Camavinga.
The Spanish veteran was sent off in Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano and will be unavailable to start on the night at right-back. Ancelotti will turn towards Lucas Vazquez to cover the void on the night, but it is clear that Carvajal will be missed.
The second player unavailable on the night, Eduardo Camavinga, is once again replaceable, now that Antonio Rudiger is back fit and ready to feature.
The German maestro has missed three weeks of action through injury but has made a comeback. His availability on the night would enable Aurelien Tchouameni to play as the pivot, effectively covering for Camavinga’s absence.
Going up against Sevilla, one of the few teams to have stolen points from Real Madrid this season, Carlo Ancelotti will be without the services of two key attackers.
Jude Bellingham will continue to be unavailable on the night as he recovers from his recent blow. The Englishman has made good progress so far, but it is still sizeably away from a return.
Joselu, meanwhile, was confirmed to be suffering from bone edema and is expected to be out for at least three weeks. The combination of the two absences leaves Ancelotti with only three viable attacking options – Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo Goes, and Brahim Diaz.
The Spanish-Moroccan star is expected to slot into Bellingham’s position, for it is his niche on the field while the two Brazilians will start up front as the two forwards. As revealed yesterday, the situation also opens the door for Arda Guler.
Ancelotti sees Guler as a player capable of making a difference as a forward and will thus count on him more often in the coming days. With all forward options likely to start, the Turkish phenom could begin to enjoy more prominence as a substitute tomorrow against Sevilla.
There have been talks around a possible loan involving Guler in recent weeks, and the coming games could just be his best bet to prove his worth and establish his presence under the manager.