Sunday, October 26th 2013. The Camp Nou. Xabi Alonso isn't available and Illarra is reportedly still recovering from a niggle. Carlo Ancelotti decides to start Sergio Ramos in the midfield. Barcelona ended up winning that game 2-1 but Real Madrid could have turned things around after Illarramendi and Benzema joined the game.
Ramos and Varane aren't midfielders, and Ancelotti should not trust the French man for that said position against Atlético de Madrid. Three days ago, Josep Pedrerol reported in La Sexta Jugones that Ancelotti is indeed going to choose Varane for the defensive midfielder position, while Kroos and Modric would play one line ahead of him. I can't think a better way to destroy Illarramendi's self-esteem and future with the club that lining up Varane there. Real Madrid should not be thinking too much about Illarramendi's feelings, true, but the decision makes no sense either from a tactical standpoint. It should also be noted that Illarra only played a couple of minutes during Real's 2-0 victory against SEvilla in the UEFA Supercup. After that, he has not been seen nowhere near the pitch.
Ancelotti and his coaching staff are aware of how Atlético de Madrid are going to play. They'll sit deep and wait for counterattacking opportunities, especially considering that the game will be played at the Santiago Bernabéu. That way, Ancelotti could give Kroos, Modric and Isco a chance to start in the midfield in order to provide more creativity to break Atlético's defensive wall.
Both options—Illarramendi starting as a deep midfielder or a Kroos-Modric-Isco midfield—would certainly make more sense than to deploy Varane in a position in which he has not featured since he joined Real Madrid. If Ancelotti finally decides to keep both Isco and Illarramendi on the bench it would be a head-scratching move that the Spanish players will hardly understand.