Champions League: Real Madrid in strong position against Leipzig in quarters clash

Madrid, March 6 (IANS) Spanish giants Real Madrid are the clear favourites to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Champions League when they entertain RB Leipzig on Wednesday. Carlo Ancelotti’s side took a 1-0 first-leg lead into the match after Brahim Diaz’s goal in Germany three weeks ago. That game saw a Leipzig goal ruled out for a controversial offside in the first half.

Real Madrid were held to a 2-2 draw away to Valencia in La Liga on Saturday, which was marred by a dreadful (and possible career-ending) knee injury suffered by home defender Mouctar Diakhaby, and a controversy triggered by referee Gil Manzano who blew for full-time moments before Jude Bellingham headed what would have been the winning goal, reports Xinhua.

Ancelotti is likely to keep Aurelian Tchouameni in central defense alongside Antonio Rudiger, with the French midfielder starting to adapt to the role and looking more effective in the back four than in the middle of the park.

Real Madrid are increasingly settling on a formation which sees Toni Kroos in the midfield holding role, flanked by Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde and Bellingham given a free role behind Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr. Ancelotti has options, with Brahim always able to offer something in attack as he showed in Leipzig three weeks ago, and Luka Modric could also get minutes if the coach wants to rest Kroos.

Andriy Lunin will continue in goal, with the Ukrainian having definitively won the battle with Kepa Arrizabalaga to be the first choice until Thibaut Courtois recovers from his cruciate knee-ligament operation.

Lunin’s displays in recent weeks, and especially in Germany, have convinced both his coach and fans, with Kepa reduced to a place on the subs’ bench after he initially joined on loan from Chelsea with the expectation of being first choice.

–IANS

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