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Valverde, Modric start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could line up against Chelsea

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Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Real Madrid will be aiming to take a step towards qualifying for the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League when they face Chelsea in the quarter-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu tonight.

With the La Liga title out of their hands, the reigning champions of Spain and Europe will be gunning to retain their Champions League crown. Having gotten past a much stronger Chelsea side at this stage last season, they will be confident of their chances heading into the game.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti does not have any major squad issues to deal with either as Ferland Mendy remains the only player unavailable due to injury for Real Madrid.

Ahead of the game, Madrid Universal takes a look at how the Italian tactician might set his team up to face Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at the Bernabeu.

Starters

Carlo Ancelotti had rung in the changes for Real Madrid’s La Liga clash against Villarreal last weekend, which they ended up losing. Following that match, it is expected that the Italian will recall all his regulars for this vital encounter against Chelsea.

Dani Carvajal and Eder Militao will be two players who will return to the lineup after being rested against Villarreal. The duo will come in at the expense of Lucas Vazquez and former Chelsea star Antonio Rudiger, respectively.

Meanwhile, David Alaba will line up alongside Militao at the heart of the defence while Eduardo Camavinga should get the nod at left-back after his fine showing against Barcelona last week. Former Chelsea man Thibaut Courtois will man the goal.

Camavinga at left-back? (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Moving into the middle of the park, Ancelotti hinted in his pre-match press conference that Federico Valverde will play a part against Chelsea, despite his recent controversy involving Alex Baena of Villarreal.

The Uruguayan international should occupy one of the three midfield slots for Los Blancos, along with veteran stars Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, who will step into the team at the expense of Dani Ceballos and Aurelien Tchouameni. The German will likely slot in as the pivot.

Heading into the final third of the pitch, there are no doubts about who will be starting for Real Madrid.

Club captain Karim Benzema is a certainty to feature as the centre-forward, while Vinicius Jr will start on the left, where he will be involved in an interesting duel against Reece James. Meanwhile, it will be Rodrygo Goes who gets the nod on the right flank ahead of Marco Asensio.

Vinicius · Benzema · Rodrygo
Valverde · Kroos · Modric
Camavinga · Alaba · Militao · Carvajal
Courtois

Substitutes

Given the lack of attacking alternatives at Carlo Ancelotti’s disposal, Marco Asensio is certain to come onto the pitch at some time in the second half. Dani Ceballos is another player who will be sent on in the latter stages of the game to add some more energy and legs in midfield.

Antonio Rudiger should also get a chance to make an appearance against his former club, especially if the game is in the bag and Ancelotti is looking to shut up shop. In such a scenario, another ex-Chelsea ace, Eden Hazard, could be given a token appearance.

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MU Shorts

No better time than now – Ancelotti should start 19-year-old Real Madrid wonderkid vs Mallorca

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

With the amount of pressure always on them to win, it would not be wrong to say that Real Madrid have no easy fixtures on their calendar.

And over the next week, they face a daunting schedule that involves three games – one each against the Copa del Rey finalists of this season, the reigning champions of England and Europe, and the current La Liga title holders.

Of the three, tomorrow’s meeting against Mallorca, the Copa del Rey runners-up, even though not straightforward, is the easiest.

So, rotations are expected to be made, keeping in mind the upcoming games against Manchester City and FC Barcelona.

A case for Arda Guler to start

With changes likely to be made, there is no better time for Carlo Ancelotti to hand teenage sensation Arda Guler a start for Real Madrid against Mallorca.

Guler, 19, arrived at the Spanish capital club last summer from Fenerbahce amidst a lot of fanfare. But three back-to-back injuries derailed what could have been a dream debut campaign.

Having only recovered in January this year, Guler would have hoped to get going and racking up minutes, but it has not been that way for him.

Since returning from injury, Guler has featured in only seven matches across all competitions for Real Madrid, racking up a total of 98 minutes.

There have been occasions when the youngster has let the frustration get the better of him, but there is simply no denying the talent and quality he possesses.

In his five La Liga appearances, which total up to 31 minutes, Guler has scored a peach of a goal against Celta Vigo.

The Turkish international almost followed that up with a FIFA Puskas Award contender against Osasuna when his shot from the halfway mark hit the crossbar.

Time to unleash Guler? (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Fit and fresh

One of Ancelotti’s main argument for not playing Guler enough has been that the youngster needs to reach full fitness after the lengthy layoffs in the first half of the season.

And Guler has worked hard to address that, with his recent physical transformation evidence of the efforts he has put in to get into great shape physically.

Furthermore, having not played either of Real Madrid’s last two matches after the international break, he will be fresher than those who were part of the team against Manchester City this week.

Jude Bellingham looked scratchy and tired against the Cityzens, while Rodrygo is recovering from a knock and did not train today.

Speaking about Guler after the win against Celta, Ancelotti had said: “He played very little, just a few minutes, but I was convinced that he could do something.

“He is showing all his quality. He will have a future here. Nobody thinks he has no future here. He is a great talent.”

“He has a great talent that he has shown today. In the future, I’m not saying tomorrow, he’s going to get more minutes,” he added.

Considering all the factors, Saturday’s match against Mallorca might be the ideal time for Ancelotti to live up to his words and hand Guler his first La Liga start.

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