In Carlo Ancelotti’s first press conference as Real Madrid manager, he acknowledged the enormous amount of pressure that comes with his new job title. Many journalists were shocked when the Italian mentioned the word “La Decima.” Following the turbulent times of Jose Mourinho, many had started to consider Real’s lack of European silverware a curse.Therefore, when Ancelotti spoke about the quest for the mythical tenth, people had thought he had only increased the insurmountable pressure.
In May, Ancelotti wrote his name in the illustrious history of Real Madrid by fulfilling the oldest promise. Suddenly all the painful memories of the past twelve years were forgotten. The burdening pressure was finally lifted. The tenth had arrived.
But of course, at Real Madrid there is always pressure. Coming into this new season, with Kroos, James and Navas, the Madradismo expect nothing but the moon from Ancelotti. Real Madrid will fight for six trophies this season, one of which was already conquered in Cardiff. A fluid passing game with deadly speed on the break was put on show by Ancelotti’s men. A Ronaldo double was enough for Real Madrid as they comfortably dispatched Sevilla to claim the UEFA Super Cup.
After a triumphant trip to Cardiff, Los Blancos returned to the Bernabeu to play their first home game of the new season as they hosted Atletico in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. A late Raul Garcia equalizer denied Real their first home win of the new campaign as the game ended 1-1. They will now travel to the Calderon in search of their fourth trophy in four months.
In this new season for Real Madrid, there are many new things to look forward to. Despite the prospect of having new players, new coaches and new competitions, one problem still looms large over the head of Carlo Ancelotti: the goalkeeper dilemma, with the club undergoing a change of personnel with Lopez departing and Navas joining. However, this change of participants in no way simplifies this never ending scenario.
Iker Casillas started the UEFA Super Cup final and the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, but Navas is expected to start in the reverse leg at the Calderon. After the 1-1 draw, Ancelotti announced that he had made his decision but will not reveal it until the start of the La Liga campaign. Despite Navas’ excellent form, many Spanish sources are reporting that Iker is the favorite to reclaim his throne.
Unlike other areas of the squad, the defense has not experienced any real changes. At right-back, it is becoming more and more evident that Dani Carvajal is now Ancelotti’s chosen man. The Real Madrid academy product is quickly becoming one of the finest young defenders in the world. His combination of pace and power truly represents the idea of a modern full-back. Carvajal’s rise to prominence is unfortunately coupled with the demise of Alvaro Arbeloa. After several years of admirable service, it does look likely that this could be Arbeloa’s last season in the famous white kit.
On the left side of defense there is genuine competition between Marcelo and Coentrao. The presence of two top tier left-backs is a truly invaluable asset for Ancelotti. With Marcelo’s attacking potency and Coentrao’s defensive dependability, Ancelotti is offered the luxury of choosing his left-back based on the opponent.
With Real Madrid’s almost freighting squad depth, not many players are guaranteed a starting spot. Aside from Ronaldo and Bale, only Sergio Ramos can be thought of as an “untouchable.” The ex-Sevilla man will go down in Real Madrid history as the symbol of La Decima. His fight, his courage and his belief are all representations of Real Madrid’s fortitude of that night in Lisbon.
Despite Varane’s return to fitness, Ancelotti still seems to favor Pepe in the heart of defense. The Portuguese center-back’s form was one of the contributing factors behind Real Madrid’s success last season. However, with Varane’s return to fitness, many expect a hard fought battle between the two for a spot in Real Madrid’s defense.
In a recent press conference, Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that both Di Maria and Khedira had rejected new contracts. The pair are now expected to leave, with Di Maria handing in a transfer request while Khedira is expected to run down the final year of his contract.
Unlike his renegade teammates however, Luka Modric has signed a contract extension until 2018. After struggling to win a place in Mourinho’s side, the diminutive Croatian truly came alive last season. His creative flair paired with his defensive tenacity has seen Modric become a crowd favorite at the Bernabeu.
Despite not featuring in either of Real Madrid’s recent cup successes, Ancelotti still relies heavily on Xabi Alonso. As expected however, with his growing age the ex-Sociedad man looks to be slowing down a bit. The Basque maestro might not be able to feature in every game of the season, but will surely be kept fresh for important matches. With Khedira’s impending departure, Asier Illarramendi will see plenty of game time to cover for the aging Alonso.
At the start of last season, Ancelotti stressed the desire for a “balance.” Not many fully understood what the Italian meant. Over the course of the campaign he admitted they were getting close to achieving it, but Ancelotti was always missing one player, one final piece to reach his much wanted balance.
Enter Toni Kroos. After a stellar World Cup, Perez picked him up from the discount rack for a measly €25million. Judging from his first few appearances in the white shirt, it looks like Kroos was destined to one day play for this team. He seamlessly fit into the system and oozed class whenever in possession. At the tender age of 24, it’s freighting to think that his best years are ahead of him. If Real Madrid are to continue the successes of last season, Kroos will surely be at the forefront of the charge.
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric only misplaced 7 passes between them against Sevilla - good luck getting the ball off them this season #Madrid
— EPL Stat Man (@EPLStatman) August 12, 2014
After Di Maria rejected Real Madrid’s contract proposal before the World Cup, Perez began searching for his next Galactico. The search did not take long, as James Rodriguez ticked all of the boxes on Perez’s checklist. The Colombian superstar made an excellent home debut, as he came off the bench to give Real Madrid the lead in the Spanish Super Cup. The common consensus within the Spanish media is that James will slowly be integrated into the Real Madrid line-up.
A starting spot however is far from guaranteed as even Isco will look to prove his worth. The ex-Malaga man was superb in the UEFA Super Cup and will surely get many chances this season to show why he deserves a start. With Real Madrid’s wealth of attacking options; competition for spots will surely bring out the best in these two young dynamos.
When discussing football, there is hardly ever a right or wrong. It’s simply a matter of opinions. You could argue many things when talking about Real Madrid’s squad, but BBC isn’t one of them. With the purchase of Gareth Bale last season, many confidently spoke about how it would fail and create an “imbalance.” Those words are now a thing of the past as the trio scored a collective 97 goals last season. Despite talks of the potential arrival of Falcao, Ancelotti has put his faith in the same unit that led them to continental glory last season. With Jese set to return from injury, he will be a more than worthy deputy to either one of the three.
Every manager believes that it’s really in the second year of his term that his team reaches its full potential. Ancelotti still has a few major issues to deal with, such as integrating James into the squad and balancing the midfield. But if he can iron out these concerns, this might just be the start of something great for Real Madrid C.F.