As the transfer window closes, Real Madrid has made it clear that there will be no new incoming players. The only ones brought in this summer were Aurélien Tchouameni and Antonio Rudiger. While both players have instantly hit the ground running, these are the biggest Real Madrid personnel questions for Carlo Ancelotti.
New and Old Faces
Tchouameni and Rudiger aren’t the only players having a solid start for the season. Joining them are Vinicius Junior and UEFA player of the year Karim Benzema. Meanwhile, the club lost legends like Marcelo, Gareth Bale, Isco and most surprisingly Casemiro.
This leaves Real with some uncertainty in the starting line up. Last season, fans went to every game knowing the starting eleven even before the team news was announced. However, this season, it is different. The additions and outgoings have not disrupted the team, but have left Carlo Ancelotti and his management team with some huge decisions to make.
Real Madrid Personnel: Toni Rudiger or Eder Militao/ The Back Four
When the Real Madrid signing of Antonio Rudiger was confirmed, Madridistas (this writer included) raved. They had the opinion it spelt doom for one of Eder Militao or Ferland Mendy. I was and still believe that Rudiger walks straight into the starting lineup.
The idea was David Alaba would move into the Left back position where he spent most of his time at Bayern Leverkusen. At the same time, Rudiger forms a centre-back partnership with Eder Militao. The reason for this ideology is simple; While Mendy is superb at defending in 1v1 situations, he offers nothing offensively. He struggles against teams that are comfortable sitting deep and allowing Real Madrid to dictate the play.
With Alaba, you have a very versatile player with an in-depth understanding of the game who can slot into any position on the pitch and execute his duties brilliantly. Take the Game against Espanol. He barely put a foot wrong and constantly slotted into different positions on the pitch, providing outlets on the pitch to kroos and Tchouameni and increasing the numerical advantage.
Unfortunately, Ferland Mendy does not have the offensive skill set Alaba possesses so he may sit out a lot of games, especially in La Liga. In situations where we are playing, let’s say Manchester City, Ferland Mendy would be a suitable option to deal with the threat of Riyad Mahrez. The question then becomes what would be the centre-back partnership to deal with Erling Haaland.
Alaba and Militao or Militao and Rudiger or Alaba and Rudiger. As Carlo Ancelotti stated in his post-match presser after the Espanyol game, Rudiger is excellent at handling Aerial threats. Rudiger is a complete centre-back. He is a non-negotiable asset. Militao is a vast prospect, he has the quality to be one of the best centre-backs in the world, but he still has errors.
One time he can be imperious, like in the Super cup final against Frankfurt, another time, he can be abysmal. So how does Carlo set up his back four? From what we have seen from Carlo Ancelotti, we understand he is big on consistency, having his Starting Eleven and sticking to it for the whole season. It’s a huge decision he has to make.
What will be his preferred back four? Does he pick Militao to Rudiger?
Read Madrid Personnel: Midfield Combination
The next Real Madrid personnel decision moves to the midfield. With Casemiro leaving Madrid for Manchester, Carlo Ancelotti no longer has the luxury of picking his beloved K-C-M midfield trio. Don’t get me wrong, KCM was one of the most extraordinary midfield triangles in football history.
Still, this writer felt we needed to begin the transition from them. So signing Eduardo Camavinga last summer and promoting Fede Valverde to the first team was a welcome development. The Real Madrid addition of Aurelien Tchouameni this summer was also welcomed. But we know Carlo Ancelotti; he instead sticks to what he is familiar with rather than experiments with new things, which has worked for him over the years. He is one of the Greatest football managers of all time. We all know that.
If Casemiro didn’t leave Madrid, Don Carlo would still pick KCM on a Champions League round of 16 games or a sunny la Liga fixture against Girona. So this writer was pleased when Casemiro decided to leave Madrid.
We must prepare for long-term success even as we sort for immediate success. This writer would barely survive Real Madrid going five years without winning the Champions League. That is possible if we continue to stick to old methods and players.
It will also be disturbing if Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos rack up more minutes than Camavinga or Tchouameni. It will show me that Real Madrid is not thinking long-term and that the Manager is not good enough or have not evolved to handle the excesses of Modern football.
Real Madrid Personnel: Starting Right Winger
The final Real Madrid personnel decision focuses on the offensive side of the ball. Now, this is a very concerning position. Fede Valverde has ideally slotted into that position in the last nine months. For all the qualities he brings, we need to remember that Fede is Naturally is Midfielder with the ability to find the front three with brilliant and, at the same time, dangerous passes from the ground and the Air.
He can also cover more expansive Areas on the pitch, defensively and offensively. However, as a Right winger, he has been restricted to covering those areas only on the right wing of the pitch. Rodrygo has shown flashes of brilliance numerous times, but his consistency has been a problem.
This means he has had to find succour in making his impact from the bench. But like Vinicius, Last season, Many of us are rooting for Rodrygo to make the step up and own the right wing position.
Many Madrid fans may argue that Rodrygo’s preferred position is the left wing. Still, he has played on the Right-wing and has been brilliant in that position most times. This writer also believes Rodrygo can slot into a false nine position on Karim Benzema’s Off Days.
And then there is Eden Hazard, who promised Madridistas a resurgence and an unhappy Marco Asensio at the end of last season. Either way, Don Carlo has to make a big decision. This writer wants to see Fede Valverde slot back into his Natural position. This writer believes Fede is the core of Real Madrid’s next midfield trio that would dominate world football for the next ten years.
Employing Valverde as a deep-playing playmaker alongside the defensive industry of camavinga and the attacking wit of Tchouameni. It is up to Carlo Ancelotti to bring the best out of Rodrygo, Hazard, or even Asensio, who was once tipped as the one to replace Cristiano, the same way he did for Vinicius JR.
After all, they are all his players, and his responsibility is to get the best out of them.