Real Madrid aim to seal LaLiga title with reserve team

With just one point needed to secure the league title and a vital Champions League semi-final decider around the corner, Carlo Ancelotti is set to tackle Saturday’s Week 34 La Liga fixture against Espanyol in lining up a team comprising mainly his reserve players. Real Madrid have five games to get the point they need to clinch the club’s 35th league titleand even if there is no urgency, they would ideally like to get rid of it as soon as possible.

In the meantime, they are behind in their Champions League draw against City and need to beat Pep Guardiola’s team when they meet in Madrid next week. The last thing Ancelotti would want before this game is for one of his first-choice players to get injured. He can avoid that and give his regular starters a break by fielding players who have played less this season.

David Alaba recovers from kidnapper problem and will definitely not play on Saturday. Madrid’s other two centre-backs Militao and Nacho are both suspended for the match against Espanyol. Ancelotti has few options but to include Jesus Vallejo and Ferland Mendy in his starting lineup against the Pericos. There is always the possibility of Casemiro falling into the back four, as he has done occasionally when needed, but has only just returned to training as he could be rested. Another option is the Castilla defender Rafa Marinwho entered recent squad rosters as Vallejo recovered from Covid-19.

Madrid are also likely to make changes to the two full-back positions – lucas vazquez will start at the right rear and on the opposite flank, Marcellowho could lift the league trophy at the end of the game if Madrid win or draw. Dani Carvajal could also be drafted into central defence, as he did against Chelsea, although this is only a last resort.

In midfield, Ancelotti could line up Camavinga, Valverde and Ceballos. All three have shown that they can fill in when needed – that would also mean that Casemiro, modric and Kroos can take a well deserved break and be fresh for the Manchester City game…

Benzema, Rodrygo, Asensio, Vinicius, Bale…

In the lead, Ancelotti has several alternatives – the most likely is with Marco Asensio wide on the right, Benzema (who are keen to play as many matches as possible to give themselves the chance to improve their numbers in both La Liga and the Champions League) and with Rodrygo on the left wing, where he played in the 1-3 victory against Osasuna. This would give Vinicius the opportunity to breathe a little, he will have to be 100% for Wednesday’s clash against City at the Bernabéu. Another option is Gareth Balewho will probably be given a few minutes against Espanyol even if he doesn’t start.

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