We have seen in multiple Champions League matches this season that Real Madrid are at their best defensively when Ferland Mendy is at left back, David Alaba and Eder Militao start in the middle, Casemiro anchors the midfield, and Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde are on the pitch to provide ball-winning and energy.
Camavinga and Valverde were key in the second leg against PSG, and Cama’s performance in the second leg against Chelsea at the end was unforgettable. At Manchester City, Toni Kroos struggled as badly as he did in the second leg vs. Chelsea, though he was not taken out until late. We did see Camavinga enter the pitch for Rodrygo Goes, with Fede moving from midfield to the right wing position.
Carlo Ancelotti has been more willing to learn from mistakes and adapt recently, which has led to positive results, such as the advancement against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea in the quarterfinals.
He may have to make the very tough decision to leave one of his best attackers, Rodrygo, on the bench and one of his legendary players, Kroos, on the sidelines as well in the second leg. I do not know if he will have the strength to make such a move with Kroos, who is not an easy player to bench under any circumstances.
But from what we have seen with where he struggles and what Camavinga offers, it is possible.
Less risky, of course, is using Camavinga in a similar manner to Rodrygo. As an early substitute if it is clear a change is needed based on the flow of the game. Ancelotti is learning more about his squad after joining the team this summer, and his trust for Camavinga and Fede has grown with each passing week.
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He has learned that he can use these young players, as well as Rodrygo in attack and even Dani Ceballos, who was brilliant at Osasuna and quietly strong off the bench at City. Ancelotti’s increased knowledge and confidence in the squad could be decisive in what will surely be another nail-biting second half at the Bernabeu.