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Real Madrid's "BBC" to be finely retuned for next season

Rafa Benitez is set to rid Madrid of the 4-3-3 Carlo Ancelotti stuck stubbornly to and inject fresh life into his side's attacking threat.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Rafa Benitez has not been welcomed with open arms to Real Madrid but one thing that will help win the fans over is a change from the much-criticised 4-3-3 that Carlo Ancelotti stubbornly stuck to for the last two seasons.

That 4-3-3 left a "non-negotiable" forward three of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, affectionately known as Madrid's "BBC", but that will be re-tuned this summer to help give fresh life to a team charged with the tough task of dislodging a treble-winning Barcelona side next term.

Benitez is accustomed to using a 4-2-3-1 approach and Madrid fans should grow accustomed to that too. With Toni Kroos and Luka Modric sat in front of a back four, Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale are likely to line-up behind Karim Benzema as the sole No.9 leading the line as things stand. It is a tactic that made sense a year ago when Madrid splashed their riches on James, who played so well as a No.10 for Colombia in the World Cup but played in a midfield three under Ancelotti.

However Benitez lines his troops up next season the "BBC" is set to be broken up. A more defensive 4-4-2, with Ronaldo and Benzema leading the line, could also be implemented and rumours surrounding Benzema's future at the Santiago Bernabeu refuse to go away, despite the player's agent insisting the French forward would gladly retire in the Spanish capital.

The "BBC" was highly acclaimed before Christmas but the signs after the winter break were that changes needed to be made to keep pace with a Barcelona side boosted by Luis Suarez forging a lethal combination alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar in the Catalans' attack. That trio ended up with a staggering 122 goals across all competitions this season but the fact that Madrid outscored Barcelona in La Liga, netting the second highest tally in the league's history with 118 goals, should not be forgotten.

The "BBC" netted a round total of 100 goals, with Cristiano Ronaldo bagging the bulk of them with 61, while Benzema chipped in with a healthy 22 and Bale scored 17, but while Barca had a reliance on their front three for goals, Madrid had a midfielder who outscored the entire Barcelona midfield with 17 goals in James Rodriguez.

The likely breaking up of Madrid's attacking trio will be tempered by an even more attacking involvement from the Colombian. The 23-year-old also contributed 15 assists in all competitions from deeper in a midfield three and a role higher up the pitch, perhaps just behind Benzema or whoever leads the line, should see the former Monaco man's statistics get even better.

A move further up the pitch and the inclusion of two men in the middle will also release James of his defensive duties, duties that wee carried out with aplomb last season, and leave more energy to cause problems in attack. He could be the weight that helps tip things back in favour of Madrid next season if Benitez gets it right.

Madrid have strength in depth in this area, too, with Isco chomping at the bit to get chances under his new boss. The former Malaga man could operate across that trio behind the ‘No.9'. With Benitez favouring rotation, Isco will get his chances next season if he decides to stick around.

A change in approach should also help Bale's integration back as a key cog in Madrid's team. Reports suggest Benitez has been charged with getting the best out of the Welshman and a slightly deeper role should give Bale more opportunities to use his pace and power to run from deep and cause defences all kinds of problems. As showed at Tottenham, he too can play through the middle and out on the left.

Indeed, Madrid's attacking versatility looks encouraging for next season. An additional striker is set to be brought after Madrid declined the chance to turn Javier Hernandez's loan deal into a permanent switch, while Cristiano Ronaldo may also be moved closer to a regular No.9 and Bale has also played in attack in a 4-4-2 line-up.

The "BBC" will not continue as we know it next season but a re-tuning will be just what the doctor ordered as Madrid counter Barcelona's "MSN" of Messi, Suarez and Neymar. More options and more rotations should give a much-needed freshness to Madrid's attack next season.

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