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Two ways Real Madrid can fit Mbappe-Haaland with Benzema-Vinicius

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Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Real Madrid are set for a busy summer ahead. Despite an extraordinary display to outwit Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League, the thirst for quality in the squad is apparent.

The board has already identified multiple targets in the coming summer, with Kylian Mbappe unquestionably the leading choice for Florentino Perez and co.

Recent reports suggest the Frenchman may even reach an agreement with Real Madrid as early as next week, which would see him join the club on a free transfer in the summer.

In addition to Mbappe, Real Madrid remain keen on the services of Erling Haaland. The Norwegian is expected to leave Borussia Dortmund in the summer, following a disastrous campaign that saw the club fail to reach the Round of 16 stage of the UEFA Champions League or even the UEFA Europa League.

Real Madrid are, no doubt, hoping to unite both Haaland and Mbappe into the same team next year, a duo that could potentially create havoc for opposing defences in the years to come.

And here, we will be taking a look at how Real Madrid can possibly fit the two generational talents, along with the existing stars such as Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema into the same lineup next season.

A generic 4-4-2

A 4-4-2 appears to be the best solution when it comes to fitting four top-class attackers in the same team. This system could see Karim Benzema and Erling Haaland form a strike-partnership at the top, offering a unique combination of speed, technique and strength.

Both Kylian Mbappe and Vinicius Junior could operate on the flanks, offering more pace and dynamism going forward. The collective brilliance of these four players could easily make Real Madrid the team to beat in Europe.

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (L) and Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior attend the Ballon d’Or France Football 2019 ceremony at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris on December 2, 2019. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

The system can also effortlessly switch to a 4-2-3-1, with Benzema dropping deep to operate in a number ten role. Given the Frenchman’s technical ability, he may thrive in this position, operating just behind Haaland.

However, the 4-4-2 could create an imbalance in the Real Madrid midfield. The shift to a double-pivot could make it difficult for Los Blancos to control games. It would also significantly weaken the second line of press, making the team susceptible to counter.

The experimental 3-1-4-2

Systems such as 3-1-4-2 or a 3-1-5-1 are often used by coaches like Julian Nagelsmann, especially in the face of an injury crisis.

Such a formation might yield benefit for Real Madrid as it would allow Casemiro to operate in his favoured defensive midfield role while retaining the place of both Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the starting eleven. The influence the two have on the pitch cannot be understated.

On the flip side, though, it might force both Vinicius and Mbappe to do the defensive work, which is never a good idea. It could ultimately increase the pressure on the centre-backs and may ultimately accentuate the need for defensive reinforcement.

Real Madrid would essentially require players like Lucas Hernandez or Kieran Tierney – players that are suited to accomplish a wide range of roles in the centre-back/fullback hybrid.

While David Alaba is more than capable of filling that void on the left-hand side, signing a top-class centre-back could be tricky in the summer, especially if Real Madrid do end up with both Mbappe and Haaland.

As things currently stand, Mbappe appears to be on the verge of joining Los Blancos, but Erling Haaland is yet to make a decision on his future. Real Madrid are among three clubs, along with Barcelona and Manchester City, that are interested in the Norwegian.

The coming weeks could be important in the context of Haaland’s future, though the forward, in the meantime, will focus on his recovery before the upcoming game against Arminia Bielefeld.

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Three talking points ahead of Manchester City vs Real Madrid

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Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The big Champions League nights seldom disappoint, and the first-leg quarterfinal results last week in this year’s edition were no different.

The four games cumulatively saw 18 goals scored, none of which were overwhelmingly convincing, thus leaving the ground level ahead of the decisive second legs.

Of the four fixtures that unfolded last week, the clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City was the most entertaining, by far.

An enthralling 3-3 draw saw both Los Blancos and Pep Guardiola’s men pull off mini-comebacks on the night before they eventually split the spoils and left everything to be decided at the Etihad Stadium.

Tomorrow, the two European giants face off again in Manchester in a game that will grant the victor a spot in the semifinal of this season’s Champions League.

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

New year, new team

As Real Madrid head to the Etihad to take part in the decisive second leg, they invariably confront some horrific memories at the arena.

For starters, the men in white have never beaten Manchester City at the Etihad in an official game. Of the teams’ last three meetings at the venue over the past four years, City have always come out on top at home.

Los Blancos’ most recent recollection of the venue does not help in any way either. After all, they headed to England last season after a draw in the first leg at home, only to be destroyed by a 4-0 margin by Pep Guardiola’s men.

Fast forward one year, the Spanish giants once again failed to secure an advantage in the home fixture. To qualify for the semifinal, they must not only conquer the Etihad’s curse but also get past the ghosts of last year.

A lot has changed in Carlo Ancelotti’s setup since the two sides last met. Karim Benema’s departure, Jude Bellingham’s arrival, and the rise of new stars in goal and defence are just some of the innumerable variations that have grown into the Madrid-based entity.

Ancelotti’s primary goal tomorrow, thus, should be to keep the morale and belief of his men high. It is a new year, a new team, and history plays no part in how the game plays out.

The defensive situation

Rudiger and Nacho likely to start in defence. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Ancelotti was faced with a defensive dilemma ahead of Real Madrid’s first leg last week. Of the available options, he opted to go with Aurelien Tchouameni to partner Antonio Rudiger, purely because of the Frenchman’s prowess in aerial duels.

While Tchouameni did do a good job, he is suspended for tomorrow’s clash leaving the Italian coach in a tricky situation in defence.

His Plan B, Eder Militao, is not fit enough to start, and everything indicates that Nacho will be the player to start alongside the German.

Tomorrow’s game at Etihad will be a personal battle for Rudiger, for he was dropped the last time Real Madrid played at the venue and watched his team’s destruction from the sidelines.

Now arriving as the leader of defence, he will make it his objective to prove that Ancelotti’s decision to drop him a year ago was costly. After all, he has efficiently defended against Erling Haaland in all his meetings with the Norwegian.

An equal share of the spotlight will shine on Nacho, whose aerial ability will be tested, and Ferland Mendy, who suffered against Bernardo Silva a week ago.

Clarity in approach

Real Madrid differ from other top European clubs in one primary respect. Unlike the goal of competitors to play a beautiful game, dominate the proceedings and assert authority, Los Blancos purely concern themselves with the result.

Be it ugly or an exquisitely crafted display, the win and qualification are all that Ancelotti aims for. The aforementioned approach has largely pioneered the team’s success over the years.

Heading into tomorrow’s clash, it is thus imperative that Real Madrid have the right idea of what to expect.

It will be close to impossible to dominate proceedings against a well-oiled Pep Guardiola team, nor will it be simple to boast of possession. As such, the Merengues will likely be forced to defend deep for large parts of the game.

What will be critical, however, are the few chances they get on the counter-attack. The likes of Vinicius Jr., Rodrygo Goes, Jude Bellingham and Federico Valverde will be crucial if the team is to hit on the break with efficiency, and their form will account for a large part of the result.

The goal tomorrow, thus, must not be to dominate the game but purely to walk out victors. It might not turn out to be beautiful, but will surely be memorable should it work out.

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