Following a lacklustre goalless draw in their opening fixture, questions have been asked regarding Real Madrida s lack of attacking options as Rafael Benitez takes charge of the dugout.
Despite the menacing presence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Real Madrid seem to be gambling on their striking options as Rafa Benitez ruled out signing a new No 9 at Santiago Bernabeu. Following an impressive outing under Carlo Ancelotti, Karim Benzema consolidated his position in the starting line up after striking an effective partnership with Cristano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. However, the Frenchman has struggled with his fitness in recent months with doubts persisting regarding his ability to remain fit all throughout the season as Real Madrid hope to challenge in all major competitions.
Real Madrid signed Chicharito from Manchester United on loan last season and though the Mexican was hardly chosen over Benzema by Carlo Ancelotti, he came in handy during a few crucial fixtures when the Frenchman was sidelined due to an injury. But with Real Madrid refusing to extend his stay, the question remains- Who will shoulder Karim Benzemaa s responsibilities under Rafa Benitez?
Speaking on the same issue, the Spaniard revealed that Real Madrid were not in the market for a new striker as he had the option of playing Cristiano Ronaldo, Jese Rodriguez and Mayoral as a striker. Though this may suffice on paper, is Rafa Benitez gambling with his striking options as he takes charge at Real Madrid?
Things are unlikely to come to a head as long as the French striker is available for selection. Rafa Beniteza s rotational policy will ensure that he is not taxed undeservedly during the course of the season. However, in his absence, as was the case against Sporting Gijon, Benitez is likely to field Jese Rodriguez in a No 9 role.
Despite his disappointing outing last weekend, Jese definitely has the potential to improve as he looks to establish himself at Santiago Bernabeu. However, the Spaniard looked out of position as a striker as he was unable to create space for himself in the oppositiona s box. Woefully out of ideas, he was unable to use his pace with his back against the defence.
It is because of the same reason that Cristiano Ronaldo prefers to operate down the wings instead of leading the teama s attack. The Portuguese international is able to influence the game with his pace and dribbling abilities, both of which come in handy as a winger in the starting line-up. As a striker, Ronaldo is more likely to be crowded out by the defence, rendering him obsolete on the pitch.
Gareth Bale faced similar problems operating from the middle following a role reversal under Rafa Benitez. Formerly deployed on the wings, Bale is expected to play a more central role and is likely to be positioned behind the striker. Rafa Benitez has also experimented with using the Welshman as a false 9 during the pre-season and could turn to the former Tottenham man in order to solve Rela Madrida s goal-scoring problems. But as with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale seems to be at his most menacing self as he takes on defenders with pace and agility down the flank.
Mayoral on the other hand seems to be making all the right noises following his promotion at the club. But the youngster remains a untesteda and lacks the experience to fill in effectively for Karim Benzema.
Hence, without a second striker in the squad, is Rafa Benitez doomed to fail at Real Madrid despite an otherwise supremely talented squad?