Real Madrid have been on a scoring spree having notched 13 times in their previous two outings! The club has reinforced heavily throughout Carlo Ancelotti’s reign as manager, having brought in James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale for a combined £145 million. That’s not to mention the £80 million spent on Cristiano Ronaldo when he moved from Manchester United.
The club also has Karim Benzema, Javier Hernandez and Jese Rodriguez (once he recovers from injury) to make up a frightening front line. Madrid have already lost two games in La Liga this season, but with their attack beginning to click, can they recover to take the title?
Three reasons why they CAN – Ronaldo
The current Ballon d’Or holder can win any match for Real Madrid with a moment of magic. He always appears whenever there is a goal scored, and his teammates know his role in the side. There is no better finisher in world football better than Ronaldo, and with a midfield supplying him with chances, he’ll score plenty week in week out.
Ronaldo thrives on personal goals, so if he’s short of a goal or he hasn’t been given the chances, he’ll make them for himself. In full flow, there’s few more frightening sights, and often he doesn’t need 10 others to help him score the crucial goals.
Fully fit Bale has La Liga experience
The Welshman spent the whole of pre-season bulking up and getting properly fit, surely disappointed not to be going to the World Cup. There must have been plenty of time for Bale to reflect on what was an impressive season in the end for Real, obviously scoring the important goals in two finals.
With that knowledge and experience, Bale will grow and improve this season, showing La Liga what made him one of the Premier League’s most important players. There is a degree of extra pressure, but he knows what faces him having adjusted to Spanish football, and looks set to push on from his breakout season in Spain last year.
Bench options stronger
One man content with his place on the bench is Javier Hernandez, a man renowned for scoring crucial goals late on in games for Manchester United. The Mexican showed his quality by scoring two late screamers in the 8-2 win at the weekend, but also how quickly he adapts to the pace of games and how fatigued the opposition are.
Having seen Alvaro Morata leave the club during the summer, Hernandez’s experience will mean he is the new, better back-up option for Real Madrid. Isco is another likely to make fleeting appearances now James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos have joined. Isco’s quality is unbelievable, but his position on the bench will only help Real is games are tough. Added to that, one of Rodriguez, Karim Benzema or Bale will be on that bench at times when Madrid are in need of a goal.
Three reasons why they CANNOT – Ronaldo
Yes, he might be one reason why Madrid can win the title, but he can also be a frustrating hindrance to a team working hard to create chances. His position in the team is at the top, but that often means he has the authority to try a shot from 30 yards, or take free-kicks when Bale and Rodriguez are arguably more adept.
If Ronaldo and Real are suffering the sort of games like the ones against Sociedad and Atletico, a selfish approach from Ronaldo is the last thing Madrid need. Matters are made worse when bodies pile forwards only for the Portuguese to take the shot on himself and leave Madrid exposed. He’s an absolute gem of a player, but when it isn’t working he’s one hell of a frustration.
La Liga often decided by big clashes
Having already lost one big game to Atletico this season, Real know that firepower is great for racking up the goal difference, but not always effective against the league’s top teams. Atletico have managed to suss out how Real play, holding them for 94 minutes in the Champions League final and in the SuperCopa, and Barcelona could do the same in the Clasicos. That’s not to mention Barcelona’s equally impressive attack.
Alexis Sanchez is gone, but Barca still have Lionel Messi, Neymar, Pedro, Munir, Sandro and now Luis Suarez. With Suarez coming into the team ahead of the first Clasico, Real could find themselves overwhelmed and beaten by the possession craving, upgraded Barcelona, who have also begun the season on fire.
Their defence is leaky
Despite boasting Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Raphael Varane, Real Madrid do have a shaky defence, breached four times by a Real Sociedad tea out of sorts already this season. Their attacking style means gaps are left in behind Dani Carvajal, Fabio Coentrao and Marcelo, which teams can counter on effectively. Combine that with Iker Casillas enduring a difficult spell in goal (although Keylor Navas may be called upon with four games in two weeks) and teams look at Madrid as vulnerable nowadays.
The focus at Madrid has been on boosting their attack, but rather like Barcelona up until this summer, their defence needs some reinforcements too. An injury to a defender likely means a youngster is called upon, and we saw how Barca’s Marc Bartra was caught out at times last season. That injury is more likely with the added games this season in the Super Cup, SuperCopa and World Club Cup.
Compared with Barcelona, yet to concede in the league at all having brought in two experienced players, Madrid can have all the attackers in the world but are still susceptible to the counter attack.
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