Real Madrid lost a golden opportunity to catch up with Atlético and Barcelona at the top. The disastrous match at Villarreal has made critics shift into attack mode again. The club as a whole is going through a strange phase and even the players don’t seem motivated to do anything. However, giving up is not an option and beating Rayo Vallecano is the first step towards a better 2016.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
The team’s problem isn’t in the layout of the system, but probably the way Rafa Benítez handles tactics. The squad is disconnected, lacks focus and goals are difficult to achieve. The supposed fight between the players and the manager can also be one of the reasons things aren’t going well, yet professionalism should reign over everything.
GK: Keylor Navas
The great form we saw in the early months of the season may have been a mirage. He no longer seems invincible or confident, which is helping rivals to profit and costing Real many points. Something needs to change.
Carvajal still isn’t ready to come back for this one, so the Brazilian will stay as the right back. His contribution in attack is good, but like many other players, his defending could use a big improvement.
In tone with the rest of his teammates, the concentration wasn’t there and Villarreal was better. At this point, it doesn’t matter which player is in the lineup, if everyone is feeling unmotivated, little can be done.
CB: Sergio Ramos
His return was supposed to be something positive and in the end, it wasn’t. Since La Décima, it’s almost been an unwritten law that Ramos does more bad than good. He’s not the boss the defense needs.
Nobody can deny his talent as an attacker and his average defending. As the only natural left back in the squad, he’ll be playing week in and week out. It doesn’t seem the winter transfer window will be used to buy an alternative to him.
RCM: Luka Modrić
Out of all the midfield combinations we’ve seen this year, Modrić and Casemiro alone don’t seem to work well. If you add Kroos to those two, it feels more balanced. The Croatian is important and there isn’t a substitute that can replicate what he does.
LCM: Toni Kroos
Isco’s reaction to Kroos sitting on the bench last weekend went viral. The German is expected to come back for this match and it will have a special meaning as he scored his first and only goal at Real against Rayo at the Bernabéu.
RW: James Rodríguez
He did try to revert last Sunday’s situation, to no avail. We know he’s capable of being extremely influential in a positive way. Motivation seems to be the primary thing that’s making everything not run smoothly.
CAM: Gareth Bale
The Welsh was arguably the least bad performer at Villarreal. Luck wasn’t on his side and the loss couldn’t be avoided. While the result was negative, his persistence gave the team a glimmer of hope.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
For the first time this season, he failed to direct a single shot on target at El Madrigal. His accuracy has been in decline despite his goal-fests against lower-rate squads. He needs more goals in crucial games if he hopes to win titles.
ST: Karim Benzema
He was one of the most criticized last weekend because of his disappointing performance. Despite this, Benítez doesn’t have another one like him. The Lewandowski rumors should keep him stimulated.