Real Madrid is one of the premier clubs in Europe and the competition for places is always intense. Former reputation and price tag hold no relevance if a player cannot consistently deliver at the highest level day in day out. In a squad with such depth like Madrid's, each position on the field often has 2-3 players competing for the same spot.
Real Madrid's Squad
GoalKeepers(1 spot): Casillas, Lopez, Jesus
Defenders( 4 spots): Ramos, Pepe, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo, Coentrao, Arbeloa, Carvajal.
Defensive Mid( 2 spots): Modric, Alonso, Illara, Khedira, Casemiro
Attacking Mid ( 3 spots): Isco, Di Maria, Ronaldo, Bale
Forward( 1 spot): Benzema, Morata, Jese
This article is based on the assumption that Madrid will play a 4-2-3-1 now that Bale has arrived.
GoalKeeper- Iker Casillas- Iker or San Iker is a Madrid Legend. He is an absolute fan favourite. He is the last Canterano to have broken into the first XI and Madridistas love it when one of thier own makes it into the team. As Spain and Madrid Captain, he was won everything there is to be won except the Confederations Cup which doesn't really count. He has consistently proven himself at the highest level. Lopez is also a fantastic keeper and has done no wrong and doesn't deserve to be dropped. But this is Casillas. His aura and authority is what is required right now to tighten up a leaky defence and better the morale of a team in transition once again. It will be a shame to lift La Decima with San Iker on the bench.
Right Back- Dani Carvajal - Another Canterano. Carvajal was sold to Bayer Leverkusen last summer with Madrid's standard buyback clause. While he was promising, there were no signs that soon he would be back in Madrid. Purchased back for 6.5 million, he provides a much better alternative to Arbeloa than Essien. Arbeloa has always been a solid, unspectacular defender who contributes nil going forward. One could say that fortune has greatly favoured him. He has been a regular in the Madrid and Spain team but only due to a lack of better options. Carvajal was rated by German Newspaper Bild as the best right-back in Bundesliga ahead of even stalwarts like Lahm and the excellent Piszczek. He is a solid defender and is also a constant attacking threat. Arbeloa might start this season as first choice due to Dani's lack of experience but expect him to end the season as first choice.
Centre Back 1- Sergio Ramos- Perhaps the best centre-back in the world( along with Hummels and Kompany) behind Thiago Silva, Ramos is an excellent central defender. Strong in the air, hard in the tackles and dominant in positioning. But the reason he is a top defender is because he plays with a burning passion. Madrid is his club. He isn't a Canterano but he is one of us and our stand in captain. Another thing about Ramos is that he brings his best to the biggest games. Against some of La Liga's lower opposition, he is sometimes shaky but in the big European matches, he is imperious. One of best performances in the white shirt perhaps came last season against Dortmund in the return home leg semifinal. He was a beast, physically out-muscling Lewandowski and keeping their attack at bay before scoring a bullet to provide hope of a sudden ' Remontada'. It was heart-wrenching to see him crying after the match ended.
Centre Back 2- Raphael Varane- Make 3-4 mind-blowing tackles including a goal-line clearance and 2 last minute sliding tackles against Messi and Fabregas and then score the equalizing goal that keeps your team in the tie in your El Clasico debut. Too good to be true ? Well that is how Varane announced himself to the world. Personally picked by Zidane from French club Lens for 10 million, he established himself as a starter following a string of amazing performances in Europe and La liga. For a player so young, he displays maturity far beyond his years. No disrespect to Pepe: He is a very good defender but the pair of Ramos and Varane is better than him. Pepe will however prove to be a more than capable backup who will hardly cause the quality of the defence to dip when brought in.
Left Back- Marcelo- He has played as a winger and a forward for Madrid. But his final position is left back. Mourinho did wonders with this man. Over the last 3 years, he has improved by leaps and bounds. His defensive abilities have become better and he is now relatively solid at the back. His connection with Ronaldo on the left wing is exciting and has often produced important goals for Madrid. Coentrao might be slightly better defensively but Marcelo takes this because he is better overall. Perhaps under Ancelotti's tutelage, he could improve even further. After all this is the coach who has worked with Maldini.
Defensive Mid Pivot Player 1- Luka Modric- In a defensive double pivot like in the 4-2-3-1, one player sits back, breaks down attacks and dictates play while the other player moves slightly forward also dictating play. Luka Modric is the latter. He has come a long way in a short time after being labelled the worst signing of last summer by Marca in December. As seen in last match against Bilbao, his passing is excellent and he plays with a great intensity even putting in a fair amount of defensive work. Khedira is a great, dynamic player but no one including himself is really sure of his role in the team. Modric will provide an attacking option from the back acting like " Regista".
Defensive Mid Pivot Player 2- Xabi Alonso- 2 injuries have taken their toll on Alonso this summer but surely he remains one of the best midfielders in the world. In this pivot, he is the man who sits back, helps defensively and dictates play. He can often be seen as part of the back 4 especially in El Clasico when Madrid defend in numbers. His cross-field long balls are undoubtedly the best in the world. Alonso provides a calm head and comes with bags of experience in a team which is rash and young. Expect him to walk back into the first XI when hes back from injury. Illaramendi will learn a great deal from him and is being groomed as Alonso's replacement. Casemiro impressed in pre-season but unless the defensive mid is ravaged with injuries, he will remain a mere squad player.
Attacking Mid Left Wing- Cristiano Ronaldo- An absolute no brainer. The Boss and The Main Man. The first name on the team sheet, CR7 is best/second best player in the world. He is a terror on this wing, running past defenders using his pace , cutting in into the centre, freely roaming the attacking third and launching screamers with both legs. There is not much more to say about this man. Another 50-60 goals coming this season.
Attacking Mid Right Wing- Gareth Bale- The big summer signing for a hefty 91million, Bale will take up the right wing. He will pay the wrong footed winger role on the right wing like Di Maria. He is a raw, unpolished version of Ronaldo and will benefit a lot by playing with his idol. Perhaps, he will have to track back to help in defense like Di Maria and wont have the free roaming role( taken by Ronaldo) that he had in Tottenham. Its going to be exciting to see these 2 speed kings continuously interchange wings and terrorize defences. This system is perhaps better suited to Mourinho's counterattacking tactics but let's see how it works.
Attacking Mid Central Attacking Mid- Isco- Another one of the summer signings, Isco has had a bright start to life at the Bernabeu scoring 3 goals in 3 games and assisting 2 as well. He is going to have a great time with 2 superstars on either side of him. Ozil would've been a better choice here. Madrid dont need more sources of goals with Benz, CR7 and Bale around and Ozil's vision is unmatched but Isco isn't far behind Ozil. Maybe in a year or two, he will be as good as Ozil.
Centre Forward- Karim Benzema- Often derided for his lack of work ethic, Karim has started the season well. But his work-rate needs to improve and he needs to be consistent in scoring. The Bernabeu isn't too fond of this man and he has to do a lot to impress them. Waiting in the background are 2 gems: Morata and Jese. The only thing Perez did right this summer is that he didn't buy another senior striker. We need to give Canteranos chances and these 2 will surely see lots of playing time this season and may even replace Benzema if his form dips.
Ronaldo Isco Bale
Marcelo Ramos Varane Carvajal