Real Madrid Versus Athletic Club Preview: One Star Returns And Another Leaves Line Up

by 24britishtvMarch 31, 2024, 7 p.m. 19
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Real Madrid will lose a star player and gain another when hosting Athletic Club at the Bernabeu in La Liga on Sunday night.

Thanks to picking up one too many yellow cards at Osasuna, Vinicius Jr. will play no part in the fixture.

At his pre-match press conference, Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti couldn't agree that he was worried about Vinicius' off-field activities, which include filming a Netflix documentary, possibly distracting him on the pitch.

"There's one thing that worries me a lot about Vinicius: that he can't play tomorrow. That's what worries me," Ancelotti said sternly.

Yet while the Italian has lost his best winger in the Brazilian, he will welcome Jude Bellingham back to the fold after the Englishman finished his own suspension for a red card in the Mestalla against Valencia.

Though Athletic Club have the Copa del Rey decider to think about, Ancelotti isn't taking them for granted and expects Ernesto's Valverde's men to go full throttle at a time when FC Barcelona have reduced Los Blancos' lead to five points at the summit.

"Athletic have a week to prepare for the final and I think they will play their best tomorrow, because the goal of the Champions League is also very important for them.

"We don't believe that they're thinking about playing in the final, but about coming to the Bernabeu and trying to score points," Ancelotti stated.

Amid confirming that Eder Militao will make the squad list after picking up an ACL tear on the opening day of the season in the first meeting between the two sides, Ancelotti won't put him straight into the starting line up.

This means that Nacho partners Antonio Rudiger in central defense, with Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy the right and left backs also helping to protect Andriy Lunin's goal.

In midfield, Aurelien Tchouameni is the pivot behind Toni Kroos.

Jude Bellingham and Fede Valverde are more advanced, and will attempt to feed a front two pairing of Brahim Diaz and Rodrygo.

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