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PICTURE: Strongest Possible Real Madrid Lineup vs Espanyol – Promising Defender to Return

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New year, new life, and that’s what Real Madrid seems to be following. This new life is filled with fatigue and lacking that thirst for winning. Much like we discussed in a previous piece, it seems the obsession for a record was indeed a negative thing.

With the hopes of getting back on track, Real will play their first home game of the year against Espanyol. They may be 10th in La Liga, but they can do some damage.

Preferred Formation: 4-3-3

When everything was going well, the flaws of the system were overlooked. Now, in the midst of a mini crisis, they come back as ghosts to scare Madrid to its very core. The German double K doesn’t work, mainly because Kroos seems tired. Bale and James are meaningless to a game’s development, and Ronaldo is most likely thinking about the Ballon d’Or. Ancelotti will stick to the system, yet a revolution could come soon.

GK: Iker Casillas

The captain will return after Navas’ Copa del Rey stint. His two conceded goals at Valencia bring back bad memories. He should keep the defense ready to cover set pieces, as the problems appear to be back.

RB: Nacho Fernández

Carvajal is suspended and Arbeloa is usually the next in line. However, the latter’s current form sets up Ancelotti for a new solution. Nacho’s best matches have come from the right back position, he deserves a chance to play.

CB: Pepe

Since Ramos played and he didn’t, it would be fair and safe to send the Portuguese in. The matches will start to accumulate and stress the body, making rotations a necessary rule for Ancelotti if he wants titles.

CB: Raphaël Varane

The Frenchman continues to stand out even when the whole team is mediocre. It’s time for him to be the first choice and stop waiting for Pepe or Ramos to fail. He’s mature enough to lead the defense and become an even better player.

LB: Fábio Coentrão

It’s been a while since we saw Ancelotti using one attacking and one defensive full back. If that rotation will continue, it’s Coentrão’s turn to start and Marcelo to rest. The Portuguese  can still give enough in attack to help out Isco and Ronaldo.

RCM: James Rodríguez

Subbed in the last two games, he’s working hard, yet with little success. He has bright moments throughout a match, but he may need a break. The best thing that could happen to the midfield is that Modrić returns now.

CM: Toni Kroos

Unlike the 6-week Bundesliga break, Toni will have to get used to pushing through winter. We’ve seen him make more mistakes in 2015 than he ever did in the 2nd half of 2014. Maybe he deserves a mini vacation in order to recharge.

LCM: Isco

One of the few lights in the darkness of these two losses. He seems fitter and with the same motivation as last year. He always asks for the ball, still he can’t do everything by himself. He needs someone else to be focused as well.

RW: Gareth Bale

Unrecognizable for quite a bit of time. Not since August or maybe last season have we seen him carry the weight of a match. His selfishness and lack of finishing and accuracy are driving everyone crazy. Maybe his sale is something that’s not that crazy.

ST: Karim Benzema

With a disconnected Bale and distracted Ronaldo, Karim’s generosity goes to waste. He seems drowned and alone as he can’t find the right teammate to pass it to. Like everybody else in the BBC, he needs a stellar performance soon.

It happens every January since the FIFA Ballon d’Or’s creation. One of the best players in the world becomes obsessed with winning the trophy, that he forgets to contribute to his club. He needs to act like one of the best and lead the victory on Saturday.