Real Madrid have been afforded an extra day of rest as they prepare for the crucial showdown against Manchester City in the Champions League. The Spanish giants secured a 1-0 La Liga victory against struggling Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night. With City's game away at Everton on Sunday afternoon, that gives the Spanish side an extra day of rest before both sides square up at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
Quite unsurprisingly, Carlo Ancelotti fielded a much-changed side resting several of his key players ahead of the trip to England. Playing without regular frontmen, Vinicius Junior, Karim Benzema and Rodrygo, Madrid’s attack was blunt as the team struggled to find a much-needed goal. However, Vinicius was later brought in tohelp ensure the win.
As Barcelona need just a draw away at Espanyol to clinch the league title, Madrid sought to secure a morale-boosting victory ahead of their encounter with Manchester City.
Here are five things noticed as Los Blancos prepare to storm the Etihad Stadium for the crucial semi-final second leg encounter against the Blues.
1. Benzema Rested
Star man Karim Benzema was one of the most noticeable absentees as the squad for the encounter against Getafe was revealed. The Frenchman was not even listed on the substitutes bench. The same applies to Rodrygo and key defenders David Alaba and Daniel Carvajal.
Other important players like Antonio Rudiger, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Vinicius Junior were all on the bench. Although the latter trio later came into the game, their introduction was just to see out the win.
Having drawn blanks in the first leg against City, Benzema will be well rested and hoping to have a better game at the Etihad Stadium.
2. Madrid Receive Boost as Mendy Returns from Injury
Despite doing very well in the match and giving Bernardo Silva a tough time at the Santiago Bernabeu, midfielder Eduardo Camavinga filled in at left-back due to the absence of Ferland Mendy who was still recovering from injury.
But the team received a huge boost as the Frenchman was fit to start against Getafe. The left back played a crucial role to help Madrid knock City out of the competition last season when his well-timed cross to Benzema produced one of the goals at the Etihad Stadium. It remains to be seen if the manager will rush him back into such a crucial game.
3. Asensio on Target
Marco Asensio was introduced in the second half when Madrid took on City at the Santiago Bernabeu but was unable to find the back of the net. However, the winger showed he could be relied upon when the going gets tough as his long-range shot settled the game against Getafe.
He remains a reliable option for the manager to call upon if the team is in dire need of goals. His experience in the team even scoring in the Champions League final means that his importance in the team cannot be over emphasized.
4. Camavinga Limps Off Injured
Eduardo Camavinga started against Getafe. But that is to show just how reliable he has become for his manager. The Frenchman is proving to be a versatile player in the team and has been deployed in several positions to fill any loopholes.
Unfortunately, playing back-to-back games in a matter of days seems to have taken a toll on the young midfielder as he limped off with a knee concern towards the end of the game. He was later seen on the bench with his knee wrapped in ice. Just how serious is the problem is not known at this point, but his absence will be a huge miss for the team.
5. Ancelotti Plotting City’s Downfall
As can be expected, Carlo Ancelotti is seriously plotting Manchester City’s downfall. The well-decorated manager is looking for another European title after leading Real Madrid to Champions League glory last term. His team selection on Saturday clearly showed where his priority lies as he aims to add to the Copa del Rey trophy already secured in this campaign.
Pep Guardiola and his players will be looking to stop that from happening after last season’s disappointment in Europe. Fortunately, the odds are now in City’s favour having secured an impressive 1-1 draw away from home. The team now has the benefit of home advantage and the fans’ support to finish the job.