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Soccer

Fixture frenzy with Real Madrid set to play nine matches in October

Facing Barcelona in El Clásico is one of nine games for Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid in October.

Roddy Cons
Update:
ANCELOTTI
JESUS ALVAREZ ORIHUELADiarioAS

Things could hardly be going much better for Real Madrid at the moment.

Since the start of the 2022-23 season on 10 August, they’ve played nine official games and won all nine (the key number to remember). Those victories have allowed them to add another trophy – the European Super Cup – to the trophy cabinet, while they sit top of LaLiga, two points ahead of Barcelona, and are also first in their Champions League group, with one foot seemingly in the knockout rounds after only two matches.

Karim Benzema and Luka Modrić back for El Clásico

On top of that, they expertly navigated three matches without last season’s top scorer and talisman Karim Benzema, a run which included a 2-1 derby victory against city rivals Atlético Madrid. And to round it all off, of the 15 players who went away on international duty in September, only one came back with an injury. That one player is admittedly an important one in the shape of Luka Modrić, but the Croatian’s hip issue is only likely to keep him out for little over a week, which should allow him to feature in El Clásico on 16 October. By contrast, four Barcelona players – Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Jules Koundé and Ronald Araújo – are now suffering from new fitness issues after time away with their national teams.

Nine games for Real Madrid in October

El Clásico is, of course, Real Madrid’s biggest game of the month – and of any month – but the biggest challenge for teams playing in European competition in October may well be managing their squad through a gruelling fixture schedule. Remember the number nine? Real Madrid played nine games between 10 August and 18 September (40 days). They are now set to play another nine between 1 October and 29-30 October (29-30 days).

Real Madrid’s full fixture list in October:

2 October: Real Madrid v Osasuna – LaLiga

5 October: Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk – Champions League

8 October: Getafe v Real Madrid – LaLiga

11 October: Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid – Champions League

16 October: Real Madrid v Barcelona – LaLiga

19 October: Elche v Real Madrid – LaLiga

22 October: Real Madrid v Sevilla – LaLiga

25 October: RB Leipzig v Real Madrid – Champions League

29-30 October: Real Madrid v Girona – LaLiga

2022 FIFA World Cup causing fixture congestion

Real Madrid will play in each midweek in October, mainly due to the tightened fixture schedule caused by moving the 2022 FIFA World Cup to November and December. This season’s Champions League group stage will finish on 2 November; for context, the final group stage matches usually take place in the second week of December.

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti
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Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti SUSANA VERAREUTERS

Carlo Ancelotti happy to use his Real Madrid squad

Carlo Ancelotti’s squad depth is set to be severely tested, although the Italian has already shown this season that he fully trusts almost every member of his playing staff. The ex-Milan boss has yet to name an unchanged line-up this season, making a total of 32 changes to his starting 11, an average of four per match since the start of the campaign.

The highest number of changes came in the home game against Real Mallorca, which came five days after a 3-0 victory away to Celtic in the first Champions League game of the season. Two, however, were enforced due to injuries picked up in Glasgow by Benzema and Eder Militão.

Speaking to the press, Ancelotti explained, “The fact we have such a strong squad is the reason why we’ve made so many changes. We need to keep everyone motivated and the upcoming World Cup means that we need a big squad and everyone in good shape. Our idea is to rotate a bit more than we did last year, also because we have a bigger squad.”

Thibault Courtois and Vinicius Junior ever-presents for Madrid

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is the only man to have played every minute for Real Madrid this season, while Vinicius Junior is the sole outfield player to have started every match, the Brazilian having played for at least 80 minutes on each occasion. Can the winger expect more rest