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



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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Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place



Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.

The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.

Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.

1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?

Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.

An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.

The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.

Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.

In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.

It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.

2. A day of farewells

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.

Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.

With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.

The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.

Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.

3. A tight race for second place

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.

Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.

Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.

With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.

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