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Vazquez, Rodrygo in for Carvajal, Asensio: How Real Madrid could line up against PSG

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Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Every year, the UEFA Champions League brings with it a set of unmissable fixtures that see Europe’s elite take on each other. This year, the clash between Real Madrid and Paris-Saint Germain is the game the world has its eyes on as the Ligue 1 and La Liga leaders try to pip the other out of the competition.

The first leg ended in victory for the French side after Kylian Mbappe scored a sensational solo goal in the final minute of the game. The Parisians dominated the proceedings on the night, while Ancellotti’s side sat back and defended in a passive display.

Their lacklustre performance at Parc des Princes now puts them in a must-win situation on Wednesday. Not only do Real Madrid have to win but also do so by a margin of at least two goals.

The situation is tricky for Ancellotti, for he must put up a team that can score goals without conceding at the other end. Here is how Los Blancos could lineup midweek against PSG.

Defence

Thibaut Courtois has been one of the team’s best players in recent weeks. The Belgian has rescued many a point single-handedly for his side and warrants a starting position on the night. Having failed to maintain a clean sheet in his last two appearances, the 29-year-old will have to put his all and avoid conceding a goal on Wednesday.

In central defence, Ancellotti will likely opt for the combination of David Alaba and Eder Militao to guard the goal. The Brazilian had a poor game against Real Sociedad. Though the team came away with a 4-1 win, Militao looked lost on many occasions and was dribbled past thrice in ninety minutes.

At right-back, one could expect Lucas Vazquez to take up the responsibility. Daniel Carvajal is indeed the first-choice right-back, but his poor record in recent games might give the manager second doubts.

The Spaniard conceded a penalty against PSG in the first leg and gave away another one at the weekend against Real Sociedad. Given the pressure to not concede, he could be benched for Vazquez.

Carvajal was not able to deal with Mbappe during the first leg. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)

Ancelotti’s biggest worry heading into the game midweek is left-back. Lionel Messi will be operating on PSG’s right flank, and Los Blancos are without both their left-backs on the night.

While Ferland Mendy is suspended, Marcelo suffered an injury in the last game and is doubtful. Nacho Fernandez is likely to get a start at left-back and will have to pull off an astronomical performance for his team on Wednesday.

Midfield

Madrid will be without two key players for the second leg clash. Casemiro is suspended from the game owing to an accumulation of yellow cards, and Eduardo Camavinga is best placed to replace him. The 19-year-old produced a tremendous performance against La Real at the weekend and will be tasked with a bigger challenge come Wednesday.

The second player unavailable on the night is Toni Kroos. The German’s participation is not completely ruled out, but it is unlikely that he will start while physically unfit. One would expect Federico Valverde to take his place against PSG.

The final, and probably most crucial presence in midfield will be Luka Modric. The Croatian international continues to churn out world-class displays at the age of 36 and Ancelotti will hope for another big night for Modric against PSG.

Attack

Vinicius Jr. has been Real Madrid’s best young talent this season, scoring 13 goals and providing six assists in the league alone. However, the Brazilian did not have a good showing in the first leg in Paris. Given that his side need to score, he will have to be on point with his finishing and dribbling.

Karim Benzema will start as the centre-forward. The Frenchman failed to register a single shot when the two sides met two weeks ago. Needless to say, his performance will account for a big part of Real Madrid’s Champions League future.

The final player in the lineup is Rodrygo. The teenager provides a better work rate and linkup compared to Marco Asensio which could see him favoured by the manager. The Brazilian must be accurate on the night in both attack and defence if Real Madrid are to qualify for the quarters.

The bench

Toni Kroos is one of the big who will start on the bench against Pochettino’s side. Despite not being completely fit, the German could be involved in the second half given the gravity of the game.

Dani Carvajal is a valuable option for the manager to run a riot on the right-flank in the second half. One would also expect Marco Asensio to be involved in the closing minutes, especially if Los Blancos are chasing a goal. The same goes for Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard.

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Features

Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

For all the institutional and sporting catastrophes Valencia suffer from, they put up a resilient show against Real Madrid last month and held them to a draw in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup.

Having fired Gennaro Gattuso less than 48 hours ago, Los Che will be under the command of an interim coach at Santiago Bernabeu in the hope of repeating their feat from Saudi Arabia.

After all, they are struggling this season with just 20 points in 18 league appearances.

Valencia may not be the top team it used to be a couple of seasons ago, but there is a fighting spirit to the squad that makes them special.

As Real Madrid looks to make amends for their dropped points against La Real, some important considerations cross the manager’s mind regarding the clash against Los Che.

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

1. More names at Ancelotti’s disposal

Real Madrid’s long injury list has been a thorn in Carlo Ancelotti’s feet for a long time now. While the manager has had close to five players unavailable through fitness concerns, two names were considered irreplaceable.

Daniel Carvajal is the first on that list. The Spanish International’s presence gave the club hope after Lucas Vazquez’s injury last month, but almost as if planned, the 30-year-old immediately suffered a blow in training and was forced to sit out.

For four games, Ancelotti was thus forced to field Nacho Fernandez as his right-back. The centre-back did a good job at covering out of position, however, will be pushed back to the bench on Thursday as Los Blancos celebrate the return of Carvajal.

The defender is not the only one making his way back, as Aurelien Tchouameni also received the medical all-clear earlier this week.

The French pivot hobbled off an hour into Real Madrid’s league clash against Villarreal in the first week of January and has been sidelined for close to a month.

His absence pushed his coach to try numerous permutations in midfield, but it was finally Eduardo Camavinga who stamped his authority on the position.

With Tchouameni back roaring, his place in the starting lineup seems to be written in stone. One can expect the Frenchman to be deployed alongside Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos for his return to action on Thursday.

2. Concern shifts from right to left-back

The Merengues will finally have a natural right-back available to play against Valencia midweek. However, that does not signal the end of the Italian tactician’s trouble-riddles period.

Just when one full-back position returned to a state of normalcy, Real Madrid now have a crisis at left-back.

Ferland Mendy picked up a thigh injury earlier this week and will miss the team’s next two months of action at least. To say that this is a big blow to the club’s plans would be an understatement, for Mendy was the only natural left-back available in the squad.

David Alaba would appear to be the best-placed alternative, but the Austrian is ruled out through injury himself. Placed at a lack of options, Ancelotti confirmed in his press conference earlier today that Eduardo Camavinga would play there against Valencia.

The youngster has played in the defensive position earlier but will face the heat going up against Jose Luis Gaya at Santiago Bernabeu.

Given that Valencia’s right flank put up a memorable display when the two teams met last month, one can be certain that Camavinga’s performance can make or break Real Madrid’s night.

3. No margin for error

Less than halfway through the league season, Los Blancos already find themselves five points behind Barcelona. The wide gap is not a consequence of the defending champions’ poor form but the sheer consistency of Xavi Hernandez’s men, who cannot stop winning.

Having won the Supercopa de Espana last month, the Catalans are currently riding high on confidence. With their season heading from strength to strength, Real Madrid must hold on and wait for the right opportunity to topple the tables.

The Galacticos‘ draw against Real Sociedad added two points to the gap between the top two sides last week. At this stage, Ancelotti’s men cannot afford any further slip-ups for a larger gap would be too much for the men in white to compensate.

Every game henceforth will be a final for Real Madrid in La Liga. Three points are the bare minimum the club can walk away with from any fixture, and that mission will start from their game against Valencia.

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