As the La Liga title gets closer and closer, one squad is beginning to stand apart from the rest. Real Madrid has been firing on all cylinders due to a continued run of superb form from talisman Cristiano Ronaldo. Their best player thus far, the Portuguese international has been absolutely sensational this term, scoring 18 goals already. But Ronaldo’s talent has been helped immensely by the skilful players he is surrounded by.
However, Ronaldo is not benefiting solely from his teammates but also from his manager. Carlo Ancelotti has switched the Madrid line-up to a 4-4-2, with Ronaldo and Benzema spearheading the attack. This has lead to Ronaldo playing a striker, a position he had not previously occupied. Ronaldo is now seeing more shots on goal and total goals as a direct result of being able to run straight towards goals rather than moving into a more central position from the left. However, with Gareth Bale soon returning, it looks more and more likely that Ancelotti will revert to the 4-3-3 or even the 4-2-3-1.
This season’s best XI is already shaping up to be one of the greatest Real Madrid lineups ever assembled. The goalkeeper is, without a doubt, Iker Casillas. The Spain legend has reaffirmed himself as the clear No. 1, despite Keylor Navas being brought in from Levante. Dani Carvajal holds down the right-back spot due to a number of stellar performances. Despite Neymar running through the Madrid back line like it was the youth team, Carvajal has been a steady performer for the Madrid back line. Sergio Ramos and Pepe combine in the center for a pairing that many teams have struggled to get the better of. While Pepe continues to struggle with finding consistent form, Ramos has established himself as one of, if not the, best center back in the world. To complete the back line, Marcelo lines up on the left to provide speed both on the defensive and offensive series of play. Marcelo has been a standout performer and was vital in the 3-1 defeat of Barcelona in El Clasico.
In defensive midfield, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have combined to form what could be the best midfield in the world. Both players possess the ability to make decisive tackles and create opportunities through dazzling build up play. The two have completed 1,427 passes between them and show no signs of stopping. With the ability to score long range goals, this midfield is a force to be reckoned with. However, on a devastating note for the side Modric picked up an injury on international duty and expected to miss three to four months – a major blow for Real. On the left, Ronaldo has continued to dazzle with incredible performance after incredible performance. He has improved not only his goalscoring record but also his assists, second in the team with five assists, Ronaldo is finally beginning to develop the cutting eye that could complete his game. On the right is Bale, the perfect complement to Ronaldo on the left. Bale has settled into life, understanding that he is not the star of this team. Five goals and three assists befits Bale as he has suffered from nagging injuries from the past year. James Rodriguez slips into the No. 10 role, a position he has certainly adapted to with aplomb. Already adding four assists this season, Rodriguez is easily Madrid’s most improved player. As he came in, Rodriguez often looked lost as he had been used to being the star on his team, both for Colombia and for AS Monaco. He has since assimilated, as Bale did, and has since realized where he stands in the team. To complete the attack, Karim Benzema occupies the lone striker role. The Frenchman has been exemplary this season, contributing crucial goals when needed, such as in El Clasico, and adding assists when needed.
What needs to be addressed in the transfer window?
One area that will need to be filled come January will be center-back. While Raphael Varane is a one of the best young talents in the world, at least one more top defender will be needed to ensure injuries do not hinder Real’s title chase. While Nacho has very big potential, he is not yet ready to consistently perform well at the top level. This is why someone with plenty of international caps and experience at the highest level will be needed to maintain the title chase.
Rating (out of 5 stars): 4.75
Had it not been for two slip-ups against Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid, Real would find themselves at a perfect 5. Those two results show the need for depth in defense, as Pepe is still positionally culpable at times. This season is looking very promising and the treble is looking closer with every match played.
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