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Xabi Alonso Departure Has Severed Madrid

The void Alonso left has Madrid struggling to get the midfield chemistry down.

David Ramos/Getty Images

Equilibrio is what Carlo Ancelotti called it. It's when the proper balance of attack and defense has been found in a team. Though it took some tweaking, Ancelotti was able to field an impressive 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, that was dangerous both individually and collectively. Spearheaded by the B-B-C, the team was clinical on the counter attack. Defensively, they were able to keep ball possession much more than they were under previous coach Jose Mourinho. With quick passing and lightning-quick transitions, Madrid were undoubtedly the best team in the world during their conquest of La Decima, beating European and domestic giants in their trophy haul.

Following the sales of Angel di Maria and Xabi Alonso, that equilibrio, became compromised. Though James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos are talented in their own right, Di Maria and Alonso had a better effect on the team. Focusing exclusively on Toni Kroos, he is an attacking mid-fielder turned deep-lying midfielder. Technically, the German is playing out of position, and though he has done a decent job in the role, Alonso's positional sense and long-balls were of much use in Madrid's style of play. Despite players like Benzema, Bale, and Ronaldo getting the headlines for their goals, Alonso was very much the clockwork behind Real's rhythm. Much of the momentum was filtered through him and his vision and maturity on the ball gave Los Blancos an advantage over opponents. In essence, he was the Sergio Busquets of Madrid.

Now as creative as Modric and Kroos can be, they are often out of position when rival teams transition into attack. Casemiro has been great when called upon but at times, he too, is guilty of leaving the back four vulnerable. The lack of a deep lying play-maker - previously Xabi Alonso - has Madrid playing somewhat of a 4-2-4.  With essentially four attackers in Benzema, Ronaldo, Bale, and James; Kroos and Modric find themselves in a numerical disadvantage in the midfield when facing other sides. Tactically, Rafa Benitez has abandoned the defensive solidity he wanted to establish, and the loss of Xabi Alonso is further highlighted when the mid-field of Madrid looks particularly thin. If Madrid want to retain the balance they once had, reinforcing the midfield must become a priority.

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