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Real Madrid’s possible starting line-up vs Atlético in LaLiga week 23

We take a look at Carlo Ancelotti’s potential starting XI as Real Madrid host Atlético Madrid at the Bernabéu in Saturday’s Spanish-capital derby.

We take a look at Carlo Ancelotti’s potential starting XI as Real Madrid host Atlético Madrid at the Bernabéu in Saturday’s Spanish-capital derby.
ANDREW BOYERSAction Images via Reuters

It could happen. I don’t have a line-up in mind yet for tomorrow - well, actually, that’s a lie. They’ll play together soon.” Reporters tried to prise clues from Carlo Ancelotti about his XI for Real Madrid’s derby clash with Atlético Madrid on Saturday. The question was whether we’ll see Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga both start at the base of the midfield at some point this season. Ancelotti wasn’t giving anything away, but all the indications are that this won’t be the case against Atlético.

On paper, the more probable choice at anchorman is Camavinga, given that Tchouaméni was absent against Liverpool with flu. The latter has now recovered, but the former’s performances, and his greater match sharpness, look likely to tip the balance in his favour.

Modric and Kroos to pull the strings

There can be few doubts about the identity of the rest of the midfield, however. Toni Kroos, who was a late addition to Madrid’s squad at Anfield, will return to Los Blancos’ line-up. Next to the German will be his long-time engine-room partner, Luka Modric, who - if indeed it was necessary - reminded us of his greatness in the team’s Champions League victory on Tuesday. Madrid’s midfield duo for the big occasion, two players whose futures beyond the summer remain unresolved, will pull the strings at the Bernabéu in front of Camavinga, a player who has made spectacular progress in 2023. Whether operating as an anchorman, in a more advanced midfield role, or even at left-back…

Nacho to start at left-back

One thing Ancelotti did confirm in his pre-match press conference on Friday was that the left-hand side of defence will be occupied by Nacho Fernández. That’s a decision enforced by the circumstances - David Alaba and Ferland Mendy are both injured - but also motivated by the Spaniard’s displays. As a substitute against Liverpool, Nacho earned high praise for shackling Mohamed Salah, who had wrought havoc in attack until the youth product’s introduction.

Dani Carvajal will be at right-back, while Éder Militão and Antonio Rüdiger are expected to be Madrid’s pairing in central defence. Rüdiger looks more comfortable alongside Militão: after a difficult start at Anfield, the German ended up delivering an effective performance alongside the Brazilian, who is playing so well that he should be offended by any doubts that are raised about him.


Up front, Madrid look set to go with the trio that won them the Champions League in Paris: Vinícius Júnior, Karim Benzema and Federico Valverde. All eyes will be on Vinícius, because of the hate that has surrounded his appearances against Atleti and because of his memorable showing against Liverpool. “He’s the most influential attacking player in the world,” Ancelotti told reporters on Friday. Benzema, who was yet to open his account in the Champions League this term, grabbed a brace on Merseyside that stands him in fine stead for the derby, while the ‘Falcon’ has taken flight once more and is poised to return to the forward line, having played in a deeper role in midweek. Rodrygo Goes’ unavailability is also a factor.

Real Madrid’s possible XI vs Atlético Madrid:

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois completes a Real Madrid line-up that is expected to look like this: Courtois; Carvajal, Militão, Rüdiger, Nacho; Modric, Camavinga, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema and Vinícius.


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