Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard made a very rare start in La Liga GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP

Real Madrid took advantage of an opportunity to rest their key players and lift the squad's morale by clinching a victory against Getafe in La Liga on Saturday. The victory gives the squad a boost while also allowing Carlo Ancelotti to have most of his players in their top fitness level when they travel to Manchester on Wednesday.

The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium erupted in applause as the visiting Getafe squad gave the Real Madrid players the "Guard of Honour" as the walked into the pitch to present the Copa del Rey trophy to their home fans.

It may be remembered that Los Blancos secured the title last weekend after defeating Osasuna in the final, but they held off on the celebrations. Instead, they returned to Madrid quietly from Sevilla and prepared to host the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final clash against City.

The first leg was a tense affair, with City clearly dominating the opening half-hour. They managed to shift the momentum when Vinicius Junior scored a brilliant strike from the first shot Real Madrid had on target that night. However, City came back with a vengeance in the second half and Kevin de Bruyne scored an equally scorching equaliser.

They have all to play for in Manchester later this week, and Real Madrid will be in a good mood after securing the 1-0 win over Getafe despite making eight changes to the starting line-up.

It became clear weeks ago that Los Blancos won't be able to defend their La Liga title. FC Barcelona are now only one victory away from lifting the trophy, which makes it understandable for Ancelotti to decide to rest his key players for the remaining league matches.

Ballon d'Or holder Karim Benzema was not even called up for the squad, and neither were Rodrygo Goes, Dani Carvajal and David Alaba. Both Luca Modric and Toni Kroos were on the bench, meaning Nacho had the captain's armband for the night.

Vinicius Junior, who was the target of a number of aggressive tackles from the City defence, was also rested against Getafe. As a result, Eden Hazard managed to make a very rare start. However one of the changes paid off as Marco Asensio managed to score one of his signature long-range goals to secure the victory.

Getafe held on strong throughout the first half, but Asensio, who has become an effective scorer off the bench in the past couple of months, showed that he can be just as efficient as a starter.

His future with the club remains in doubt, but his recent performances may be strengthening Ancelotti's confidence in his abilities. Vini eventually came in as a substitute, and even had a goal ruled out later in the game.

Overall, the victory did not come easy but it will be good for the dressing room to come off a win as they head to the decisive Champions League semi-final match. The rested players would have had much more time to recharge than City's stars, who are still battling for the Premier League title.

Ancelotti did not try to mask his strategy as he told the press: "We have no other way to prepare the match on Wednesday. This game leaves us with good feelings," quoted by Marca.

He confirmed that Eduardo Camavinga remains fit despite having an injury scare, and that Ferland Mendy is back in shape after recovering from a major blow earlier in the season. "I think we will reach Wednesday with all the players fit and ready," he said.

There may be some changes in defence, with Militao potentially coming in for Alaba. Rudiger did not start against Getafe, and it remains to be seen if he or Mendy will start against City like he did in the first leg.

It is unclear if it will be a wise decision to make those changes, especially considering how well the Real Madrid defence completely neutralised Premier League top scorer Erling Haaland last Tuesday.