When you win the Champions League and also win your national cup title, people will look at you to amaze the following season. The club is used to that type of pressure, even so they usually can’t manage to repeat or beat the past season’s success. While Florentino Pérez has done some nice moves in the transfer market, some of the potential sales could be very harmful. Toni Kroos seems to be the most settled, James is still getting there and Keylor has Casillas to compete with.
Regardless of who may leave and who may come before September 1st, the squad has a decent balance. The team will at the very least play 46 matches this season, 38 in La Liga, 1 in Copa del Rey, 1 in Club World Cup and 6 in Champions League. That’s a high number, and it could increase if the team advances in the non-league tournaments. This looks to be a challenging season for Los Blancos, yet they have some things going on for them and some against them.
Speed and Surprise
Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo still know how to make a killer counterattack. With the last two, the true speed and surprise comes out. Benzema usually serves as the playmaker, but the other two make the runs. On top of that, their excellent long-range shot, accurate last pass and dribbling can make a difference when matches are stuck.
Rivals are getting used to Real counterattacking, yet the element of surprise remains important and unpredictable. Kroos and Modrić possess that quality to appear from nowhere as well. In a few seconds, both of them can shift gears and end up near the box. Ramos also remains key in that aspect, especially when the team has control of the match. Overall, all of these factors keep Madrid interesting and powerful.
Name any player from the midfield up, and you will have a player with a powerful shot. With the exception of Illarramendi and Xabi Alonso, who are more focused on passing, everyone else can appear on the score sheet at the end of the match. Yes, Madrid have only scored three goals in three official matches, but the talent remains.
When matches get to extremes, whether for good or for bad, Real usually do well. If teams are unbreakable, one individual play from anyone can make the difference. On the contrary, if teams are wide open, the goals come in bigger quantities. While every team goes through droughts, few of them have as many resources as Los Blancos.
Proven by the Spanish Super Cup, Los Blancos always struggle to get going at the beginning. This problem is most alarming when defending free kicks and corner kicks. Raúl García was a permanent threat during the Super Cup, constantly being able to lose his marker. These mistakes can cost titles and need to be worked on a lot this season.
Not only during set pieces do they suffer, but in all aspects of the game. We’ve seen defenders make a bad clearance and harm the team. It’s also normal to see players lose their position, then lose the ball and give way to a lethal counterattack. It’s early in the season, still these are things that should be considered, particularly if they are recurrent.
Lack of Alternatives to Counterattacking
It’s been a while since Real have been a “jogo bonito” team. From Mourino to Ancelotti, the club’s main strength is counterattacking. Set pieces seem to be a powerful element as well, yet they don’t focus entirely on that. Reaching the famous “tiki-taka” from FC Barcelona is a hard thing to do. However, having more alternatives would be great.
If Real play a team with a brilliant defense, the players get desperate. Consequently, they pass and pass to each other, with no option to find a spot. With alternatives like wall passes, or more tactical variations, these games could be dominated and won. At some point, most teams will get used to counterattacks and defend them better. What would happen if in 75% of the games, Madrid have this challenge? With just a few options, things look bad.
La Liga: 2nd
Copa del Rey: Winners
Champions League: Quarter-finals
FIFA Club World Cup: Winners