Having taken over the mantle from Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez seems to have hit the ground running as Real Madrid participate in their pre-season tour. Judging the team from the reports coming from Melbourne, it seems that Beniteza s plans at the club revolve around Gareth Bale instead of Cristiano Ronaldo and that the former Liverpool manager is keen on shoring up the defence before the start of the season.
Gareth Bale Takes Centre Stage
Carlo Ancelotti lost Florentino Pereza s trust last season when he decided to substitute Gareth Bale in a match. It seems that Benitez is keen to avoid a similar confrontation as he is reportedly building his team around the Welshman at Real Madrid.
Used to playing on the right flank under Carlo Ancelotti, it appears that Rafael Benitez is toying with the idea of playing Gareth Bale down the middle, just behind the striker in an assisting role. Such a position will allow the player to take on defenders while giving him the freedom to move across the pitch.
At the same time, Gareth Bale is also being considered in a No.9 position with the manager experimenting with such a formation in practice matches. Cristiano Ronaldo too has been used in such a formation (4-4-2) with the Portuguese superstar partnering Gareth Bale up front.
Though Rafael Benitez might want to utilize the goal scoring prowess of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale by using them to lead the teama s attack, the fact remains that the two individuals are their lethal best when running down the opposition’s flanks. Carlo Ancelotti too experimented with Ronaldo as a striker during his first month at the club while playing Gareth Bale in a No 9 position in his debut. However the two wingers prefer to play in a position that allows them to run at defenders and it is this trait which turned Real Madrid into one the most effective counter-attacking units under Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti. Hence it will be interesting to see how Rafael Benitez’s Real Madrid shapes up in the months to come.
Defensive Stability and the Curious Case of Sergio Ramos and David De Gea
Having earned the reputation of being a defensive manager, Rafael Benitez will be keen to make a point at Real Madrid by allowing his team to play with the flair that is demanded by the fans and the board at Santiago Bernabeu. However, reports suggest that Benitez has already made his intentions clear to the defenders by conducting one-to-one classes with them.
Though the presence of superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and James Rodriguez is likely to comfort Rafael Benitez, the manager has every reason to be worried about his teama s defence. Sergio Ramos, Madrida s most experienced and dependable defender, is involved in a transfer battle between Real Madrid and Manchester United while questions are still being raised regarding Real Madrida s new goal-keeper.
With no deal for David De Gea in sight, Rafael Benitez will be desperate for the resolution of such problems in order to shore up the Real Madrid defence.