Real Madrid stole all the headlines during the summer transfer window as they purchased Welshman Gareth Bale for a world-record fee from Tottenham Hotspur and sold German playmaker Mesut Ozil in controversial fashion to English Premier League side Arsenal.
The Spanish giants have never shied away from attention or controversy, so rumors swirling around the Santiago Bernabeu are nothing new for any player at Madrid to have to deal with. If Real Madrid wants to take the title away from archrival Barcelona and fend off neighbors Athletico Madrid, they have to become a more complete and consistent team.
Los Blancos have been tremendous going forward this season. Cristiano Ronaldo may be having his best start to a season of his career. The Portuguese star is the undisputed talisman for the Royal Whites; he already has 24 goals in 16 appearances this season in all competitions. Ronaldo currently leads La Liga and Champions League in goals scored, as he looks to guide the Madrid based club to its 10th European crown.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti was quoted as saying he preferred Argentine International Angel Di Maria over Ozil and that was the deciding factor in the German International being sold. Di Maria has repaid Ancelotti’s confidence by putting in inspired performances this season, contributing goals and assist while also displaying a work-rate unmatched by most attacking players.
France International Karim Benzema also seems to be hitting his stride, playing with confidence, contributing goals and becoming a stabilizing force upfront for Real Madrid as his linkup play has improved drastically this season. When fit, Bale has lived up to his billing, although he may never outshine Ronaldo, the Welshman has started to show the qualities that made him world’s most expensive soccer player.
The midfield has been as steady as always lead by German International Sami Khedira, Croatian International Luca Modric and Spanish trio Xabi Alsonso, Isco and Asier Illarramendi. A good mixture of playmakers, ball-winners and pass-masters giving Real Madrid versatility and continuity in the middle of the pitch.
Real Madrid has scored 35 goals already this season, trailing only Barcelona in most goals scored this season by any domestic club team in Europe. The inconsistencies are in defense; too much mixing and matching with the back four. They have given up 17 goals already in La Liga in 13 games, which is far too many for a team of such quality.
When every defender is healthy for Madrid, decisions have to be made regarding who will be the centerback pairing and who will play rightback. Brazilian International Marcelo has pretty much locked up the leftback position as Portuguese International Fabio Coentrao’s form has dipped as of late. Versatile defender Alvaro Arbeloa has seen better days. His form isn’t reminiscent of the quality that Madridista supporters expect. The Spain International should never be in the starting 11 unless there are injuries; he has the qualities of a squad player and lacks the pace to contend with athletic attackers. Spanish youngster Daniel Carvajal was brought back to Real Madrid to compete at that position and should be given a legitimate chance.
France International Raphael Varane was Real Madrid’s best defender last season and arguably the best centerback in the world last season. Varane struggled for fitness early in the season; now that he is fully fit, he should probably pair Pepe in the heart of defense to allow Sergio Ramos to move back to his favored rightback position where he rose to stardom. Only time will tell if Real Madrid can fix their defense woes and balance out their squad as they aim to bring more titles to the Santiago Bernabeu.