Real Madrid Prepare for Almeria Clash with Lineup Tweaks

Madrid, Spain – Real Madrid head into Sunday’s La Liga clash against Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu with a few lineup changes, as manager Carlo Ancelotti looks to keep his squad fresh amid a grueling schedule.

The matchup against the league’s bottom side offers Ancelotti a rare opportunity to rotate players ahead of critical upcoming games, both domestically and in the Champions League. Real Madrid are coming off a draining 4-2 extra time defeat against crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey last 16 on Thursday.

While Ancelotti remained coy about potential rotations in his Saturday pre-match press conference, saying, “The goal is to choose the best eleven and win, not distribute minutes,” he is still expected to shuffle the pack a bit for the Almeria match.

In goal, Ancelotti confirmed Kepa Arrizabalaga will replace Andriy Lunin, after the Ukrainian was deemed at fault for at least two of Atletico’s goals. Lunin’s confidence appears shaken, so the more experienced Kepa will have a chance to impress between the sticks.

The back line should remain largely intact, with Ferland Mendy retaining his left back role after a solid performance against Atletico. He will line up alongside central defenders Antonio Rudiger and Nacho, with Dani Carvajal on the right. Both Rudiger and Carvajal put in tireless displays against Atletico, underlining their importance to Real Madrid’s defense.

Further upfield, some key changes are expected in midfield and attack. Ancelotti looks set to rest veterans Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, replacing them with the youthful duo of Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga. While Modric and Kroos offer unmatched creativity and experience, their aging legs need a breather. The energetic Tchouameni and Camavinga represent the future of Real’s midfield and have earned more minutes.

On the wings, Fede Valverde and Vinicius Junior will continue in their free-roaming roles that have terrorized La Liga defenses all season. Valverde’s versatility and Vinicius’ unpredictability make them indispensable assets for Ancelotti’s fluid attacking system.

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Rodrygo Goes should lead the line again at center forward, with Karim Benzema still sidelined by injury. The 21-year-old Brazilian notched Real’s two goals against Atletico and has admirably filled the shoes of the Ballon d’Or winner Benzema. His intelligent movement and combination play with Vinicius have given Real Madrid’s attack new dimensions.

As the match plays out, Ancelotti also has exciting young talents like Brahim Diaz, Arda Guler and Joselu in his back pocket if he wants to keep legs fresh. With Real Madrid entering a pivotal stage of the season, managing minutes and avoiding injuries is key.

A comfortable win over La Liga’s basement side Almeria would see Real strengthen their eight point lead over second-placed Real Sociedad and move ten points clear of rivals Barcelona ahead of their Sunday night fixture. Given Almeria’s lowly position, Ancelotti knows Sunday represents a prime opportunity to rotate players and build squad depth.

After the grueling Copa del Rey loss, a convincing win would also rebuild confidence and momentum before massive matches against Liverpool in the Champions League and Barcelona in the league over the next two weeks.

While Ancelotti played his cards close to his chest regarding team selection, the veteran Italian manager’s savvy and experience tell us changes are coming. Real Madrid’s enviable squad depth allows for rotation without a huge drop-off in quality.

Fresh legs and renewed energy against overmatched Almeria could see a rejuvenated Real Madrid put on a show for their home fans at the Bernabeu on Sunday. With the business end of the season approaching, Los Blancos need to keep fine-tuning their preparations for the biggest games to come.

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