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Carlo Ancelotti's resourcefulness drives a Real Madrid of 18 players

The Real Madrid squad might officially have 23 registered players but in coach Carlo Ancelotti's mind he only has 18 to work with. While the likes of Andriy Lunin know that they will only be called upon when there is an issue with the first string, like when Thibaut Courtois was unavailable, the same cannot be said for the likes of Eden Hazard, Alvaro Odriozola, Jesus Vallejo, and Mariano Diaz, who do not seem to fit into the coach's plans.

This fact was always going to hamper Real Madrid, with January being particularly brutal in terms of injuries.

The likes of Dani Carvajal, Lucas Vazquez, Aurelien Tchouameni, David Alaba, and Ferland Mendy have all faced time on the sidelines with Eder Militao and Karim Benzema the latest to need treatment following Los Blancos' win against Valencia.

Despite the injury issues, and the fatigue no doubt caused by the recently concluded World Cup, Ancelotti finds ways to tinker with his squad, using only the players he believes in. The coach's nous has ensured Real Madrid enters February with momentum and within striking distance of the current league leaders, Barcelona.

Nacho comes to the fore

The Real Madrid youth product has really stepped up when his coach has needed him.

The center-back has been able to fill in where required, whether as a winger or a defender, and his versatility has silenced many doubters, especially at a time when several were questioning his future with the side.

Camavinga as left-back

This might not have been Ancelotti's brainchild given French coach Didier Deschamps already employed Eduardo Camavinga as a left-back, but Ancelotti has had the presence of mind to exploit his player's versatility.

While the Frenchman would prefer to play in the midfield, he has struck up a phenomenal partnership with Vinicius Jr. and the fact remains that Real Madrid has not conceded a goal since the switch.

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