Preview: Squad woes continue for La Liga leaders Real Madrid

AP , Friday 23 Feb 2024

Coach Carlo Ancelotti has to deal with two more absences to an already depleted squad when Spanish league leader Real Madrid host Sevilla this weekend.

Real Madrid
Referee Alejandro Muniz Ruiz shows a red card to Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal, left, during the Spanish La Liga football match between Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid at the Vallecas stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. Photo: AP


Ancelotti won’t be able to count on suspended midfielder Eduardo Camavinga and defender Dani Carvajal on Sunday.

Carvajal was sent off last Sunday at the end of the team’s 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano, while Camavinga received his fifth yellow card to prompt an automatic suspension.

Madrid have a six-point lead over second-placed Girona, who host Rayo on Monday. Madrid are eight points ahead of third-placed Barcelona and 11 points ahead of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid.

Five Madrid players remain out injured, including Jude Bellingham with a sprained ankle and defender Antonio Rüdiger because of a thigh injury. Nursing long-term knee ligament injuries are goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and central defenders David Alaba and Éder Militão.

Ancelotti has been improvising using midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni as a central defender in recent matches. Lucas Vazquez is expected to replace Carvajal on Sunday, and Luka Modric will likely play in Camavinga’s place in the midfield.

Madrid chose not to add any defenders during the winter transfer window. Ancelotti said the players he had were enough to make up for the absence of the injured players.

The good news for Ancelotti is left back Ferland Mendy will be back from suspension at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Sevilla, sitting in 15th place, drew at Valencia 0-0 in the previous round after two consecutive victories helped them move away from the relegation zone.

Girona's struggles

Girona will try to stay close to Madrid by ending a slump in the match against Rayo.

The Catalan club, the league's feel-good story, are winless in three straight matches and have lost two in a row — 3-2 at Athletic Bilbao on Monday and 4-0 at Madrid previously. They drew 0-0 against Real Sociedad before that.

Rayo, in 14th place, held Madrid to a draw but haven’t been able to win in six consecutive league matches. Their last win was in January.

Barcelona’s move

Barcelona host Getafe with a chance to get back into second place with a victory on Saturday.

The Catalan club have won three of their last four league matches. They trail Girona by two points.

Mid-table Getafe have one win in their last four games.

Almeria streak

There's no respite for last-placed Almeria, who last weekend made history for the wrong reason by becoming the first team to go 28 straight games without a league win.

Almeria drew at Granada 1-1 for their 25th consecutive winless game this season. They also didn’t win their last three matches last season.

Almeria host Atletico Madrid, who are looking to rebound from their loss at Inter Milan in the Champions League.

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