How Real Madrid Will Line Up Against Valencia in La Liga

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2014

How Real Madrid Will Line Up Against Valencia in La Liga

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    Real Madrid reached their first European final in 12 years by beating Bayern Munich in an emphatic victory in the Allianz Arena.

    With the Copa del Rey already in the trophy cabinet, it could be an incredible year for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

    They are currently third in the league, but they do have a game in hand over their title rivals. If Atletico beat Levante, they will be nine points behind the leaders at the time of kick-off.

    Los Blancos obviously need their city rivals to slip in the near future, but the positivity around the club means that all expendable energy will be used on things that are within their control.

    That starts with the visit of Valencia.

    Here's how Real Madrid is likely to line up at the Bernabeu. 

Goalkeeper: Diego Lopez

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    When Diego Lopez dispossessed Iker Casillas at the start of the season as Ancelotti's first-choice goalkeeper, many thought he had the better of the deal.

    The club captain and Spanish international was in for cup competitions, whilst the league was the domain of the former Sevilla shot-stopper.

    With Madrid now heading to Lisbon to play the first all-city derby in the Champions League final, and with the victory over Barcelona at the Mestalla last month claiming the Copa del Rey, it hasn't quite worked out that way.

    Lopez has still been excellent throughout, though, and hasn't let anyone down during the campaign. 

Defence: Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Raphael Varane and Marcelo

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    Alvaro Arbeloa returned to training this week following his knee injury, according to However, this match will come a little too early for the right-back, so Dani Carvajal will remain in the line-up.

    Sergio Ramos has scored three goals in the last two matches, but Ancelotti will probably look to rest his first-choice centre-backs over the next couple of matches.

    With the Real Valladolid fixture arriving in midweek, it makes sense to start rotating players in the home match this weekend.

    Raphael Varane is more than an able substitute and is certainly the future of Madrid's defence.

    Marcelo is fully fit once more and should therefore replace Fabio Coentrao on the left-hand side of the back four. 

Midfield: Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric and Isco

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    The daft booking from Xabi Alonso against Bayern Munich has cruelly ruled him out of the final. The deep-lying playmaker will almost certainly start the remainder of the league fixtures as a result.

    Luka Modric is continuing to show his versatility. His performances in the semi-final of the Champions League were superb in a midfield two alongside Alonso.

    It might seem like the same position to some, but the former Tottenham star was very disciplined without the ball and incisive with his passing when in possession.

    With Angel Di Maria playing out of his skin recently, it could be a good opportunity to start him from the bench.

    Isco has shown a greater understanding of the central midfield role in his last few matches and would love to be given the excuse to show his former team what he has learned. 

Attack: Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo

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    As Real Madrid will be more proactive in possession, the formation should switch from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3. That means the frightening prospect of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema will remain.

    The three combined in amazing fashion for the third of Madrid's goals in Munich. This counter-attacking move was straight off the training ground and delivered at high speed.

    Ronaldo has shaken off his previous injury concerns to set a record of 16 Champions League goals in a single campaign.