As Real Madrid continue to spend on players that they may or may not need, the issue arises as to who should start, who should sit on the bench, and who should be left out of the game day squad.
With certain new transfers having enjoyed a particularly special World Cup, we now look to a potential formation, who will play in it, and who won’t. (This formation assumes the highly likely departures of Angel Di Maria and Sami Khedira).
As successful as Ancelotti was in the past year employing a 4-3-3, he will likely be forced back into a 4-2-3-1 in order to accommodate another star attacker in James Rodriguez, who is less likely to be able to be converted into an elite central midfielder with the ability to flit out and into the channels opened up via the 4-3-3 like Angel Di Maria was.
Should Keylor Navas make the switch to Real Madrid, forcing either Casillas or Lopez into the reserves, he would be the undisputed number 1 at the Bernabeu. Coming off of an incredible run in the World Cup with Costa Rica, Navas would be a welcome addition to a rotation whose age is beginning to show. With Casillas (33) and Lopez (32) starting to lose some of their unmistakable talent, a younger keeper must be brought in. However, as things stand, Diego Lopez belongs in goal for Los Blancos. A dismal World Cup by Iker Casillas only furthered to exploit some the faults that were occasionally on display in club play, especially in the Champions League final. Either keeper can perform at an elite level but it is a fact that Madrid will need to look for a new keeper in the coming transfer windows.
Looking to a defensive line that will line up with four across the back, it looks likely that Carvajal will slot in at right back in a position that is still up for grabs, depending on Arbeloa’s form and fitness. Next to him, Sergio Ramos will find himself up against the likes of Luis Suarez, the perfect complement to Ramos’ physical yet usually controlled defensive game. Alongside Ramos, I favor Varane over Pepe due to the high-level of confidence that Varane played with at the World Cup, along with the unpredictability of Pepe’s actions and discipline. Varane rarely loses control of his emotions while Pepe is almost as likely to make an amazing last man tackle as he is to run over the player he is chasing, concede a penalty, or a receive a red card for arguing. The final defensive spot is occupied by Marcelo, even though he produced a dismal showing against Germany and was at fault for other goals, as he is Madrid’s best option as far as left-back is concerned. Despite rumors regarding a possible purchase of Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, Marcelo has been a defensive stalwart in Madrid for the past couple years and will not be looking to lose out to the likes of Fabio Coentrao.
Now for a midfield overloaded with talent, Ancelotti looks very likely to play Toni Kroos alongside Luka Modric in the two holding roles present in a 4-2-3-1. Both players possess an uncanny ability to counterattack at lightning pace and could prove the difference makers when coming up against the trio of Busquets, Iniesta, and Rakitic. Also, the instinct to score goals when given the opportunity makes this midfield duo one of the most formidable in all of Europe. Sliding out to the left midfield, we will find the reigning Ballon d’Or winner in Cristiano Ronaldo. A winger with some of the most dazzling footwork in the entire world, he is capable of creating opportunities, not just for his teammates but himself as well. Likely to take the most ambitious of chances, Ronaldo is a player unlike any other in the world and is truly one of the few able to single-handedly win games for a team with as much talent as Real Madrid. Operating opposite Ronaldo on the right side of the pitch is the most-expensive player in soccer history, Gareth Bale. Capable of beating his defender via dribble or explosive speed, Bale is a free kick specialist just as effective playing as a center-forward as a winger. He contributed 15 goals in 27 appearances for Madrid last campaign and will look to add to his tally and he grows more accustomed to the Galactico style of play. Finally, operating as the number 10 will be Madrid’s latest signing, James Rodriguez. Colombia’s golden child enjoyed a stellar World Cup, even scoring the goal of the tournament with a superb volley against Uruguay. A player able to play as a forward or as a number 10, Rodriguez will bring unparalleled dynamicity to an already formidable and versatile Real Madrid attack.
The striker spot in our formation belongs to Karim Benzema by default, unless Real does indeed bring in another striker as rumored. The Frenchman enjoyed a good World Cup in his own right. The talisman to a French attack that fired on all cylinders, he showcased his ability to sneak in behind defenses and create opportunities by holding up play. An integral part of last season’s team, Benzema looks set to enjoy more success.
On the bench, we will find Iker Casillas, the saint-like Spanish goalkeeper whose poor run of form both for club and country contributed to Diego Lopez overtaking him as Madrid’s number 1. Next are Alvaro Arbeloa, Pepe, and Fabio Coentrao. All could start on almost any other team but will provide depth to a Madrid team whose high-paced attack could leave them gassed in the final 10-15 minutes of matches. For midfield, Xabi Alonso and Isco will be used as substitutes capable of setting up goals and scoring them, respectively. Isco’s dribbling ability will make a capable replacement to James Rodriguez should he find himself injured or suffering from fatigue. Alonso’s classy style of play would calm down an attack bristling to head towards the opposition’s net. The final spot on the bench belongs to Jese Rodriguez. The young Spaniard enjoyed an exciting of the season before succumbing to an ACL tear in his right knee. A young player unafraid to both take on opposing players and score goals, he can slot in anywhere along the front line and present a fresh dose of energy to a team that may be faltering.