COPA DEL REY
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti to choose strongest starting XI for Copa del Rey game against FC Barcelona
Ancelotti will go with everything he has against Barça, having already warned that “the Cup is the most important thing.”
“Now the Cup is the most important thing, because we are close to a trophy. 270 minutes away. If we do well, we can win it”. After the draw against Atleti in the League, Ancelotti made it clear that on the list of priorities, the Cup is at the top. And the starting eleven he will write on his tactics board before the game against Barça, which kicks off at 3 p.m. E.T. on Thursday, March 2, will reflect that feeling.
Carletto will not play the Clásico with one eye on the game against Betis on Sunday. Madrid will go out with all their firepower in search of the best possible result for the return leg on April 5. Now is the perfect chance to strike: Lewandowski, Pedri and Dembélé will not be at the Bernabéu.
Courtois will be protected by a line of Carvajal, Militao, Rüdiger and Nacho, who will act as left-back, boosted by his great performances in recent weeks. The absences of Alaba and Mendy have put the player in the side as an almost undroppable left-back, a role in which he shone at Anfield.
The change of Nacho for Alaba against Salah and Alexander-Arnold was key for Madrid to get an advantage in the game. Also, Militao and Rüdiger are growing in understanding and against Xavi’s Barça, they will have a golden opportunity to prove themselves as a pair on another big stage.
Camavinga is the player who has the highest credentials to be the pivot. He is growing in the side and is showing himself to be in better shape than his compatriot Tchouaméni, who has not yet recovered his best form.
As usual, Kroos and Modric are non-negotiable on huge nights as midfielders. The German has appeared as a more defensive-minded player in specific situations, such as in the derby against Atleti, but against Barça he aims to return to his natural habitat. This means that Tchouaméni and Ceballos would likely drop out.
Valverde, Benzema and Vinicius will start up front. The trident of the 14th European Cup will lead the charge of revenge after the last Clásico, the defeat in the Spanish Super Cup where Barcelona fans cried in joy over the start of a new era. Rodrygo will arrive in the game feeling fired up after a miraculous recovery, and will wait for his opportunity; if there is no setback in the last training session he will start on the bench.
So it will be the double V (Valverde & Vinicius) plus Karim, as the central figure. Valverde has, once again, spread his wings, Vini has firmly started the debate about his place in the world elite and Benzema, without as much flash as last year, has already scored 18 goals this season. A Champions League eleven to try to get the Cup final run on track.
Real Madrid’s lineup will likely look like this: