Sergio Ramos' 93rd minute equaliser against Atlético Madrid, and the three goals that followed, meant awkward conversations about the future of Carlo Ancelotti were avoided, for at least another season.
Failing to win wasn't an option for Madrid, having spent well over £100million on the transfers of Gareth Bale, Asier Illarramendi, Isco and Dani Carvajal, especially after failing to keep up with Atlético and Barcelona in the title race.
Now La Decima has been conquered, regaining the La Liga title must become a priority for Real Madrid. On the face of it, with Atlético's title winning squad on the verge of deconstruction, and Barcelona in a state of flux following the appointment of Luís Enrique, Carlo Ancelotti's settled side should be favourites. There are, however, several areas of improvement necessary to ensure Los Blancos' progression.
Having begun to waiver on his decision to install Diego Lopez as first-choice in goal, Ancelotti needs to be decisive over the future of Lopez, and club-captain Iker Casillas. With Casillas entering the twilight of his career, he can no longer settle for a role as cup 'keeper, playing in the Champions League and Copa del Rey. Lopez, a year Casillas' junior, has undoubtedly brought more authority to Real's defence, since being appointed number one under Jose Mourinho.
This was evidently lacking when Casillas failed to act conclusively on the corner leading up to Diego Godín's opener in the Champions League final. There would be no shortage of takers for Casillas, and although the move would be tough for Madrid supporters, it would remove any uncertainty once and for all.
Raphaël Varane can no longer be held back behind Sergio Ramos and Pepe. He is already one of the best defenders in world football, as his assured display in the Champions League, albeit with little in the way of attacking threat, attested to. He has the physicality to handle powerful opposition strikers, whilst his speed, assuredness on the ball and temperament balance out Sergio Ramos' eccentric style of all-or-nothing defending. Pepe provides fantastic cover for Varane, given he is a similar stature, although he lacks the youngster's calming presence.
Ancelotti's system of playing Luka Modric, Angel di Maria and Xabi Alonso as a midfield trio worked wonders for the majority of the season, but it does leave the incredibly talented Isco out of the side, as well as Asier Illarramendi, who is being groomed as Alonso's successor. On last season's form, Modric and Di María cannot be dropped, leaving Alonso as the most vulnerable of the trio.
There will be clamours from the upper echelons of the Bernabeu board to include Isco more heavily next season, yet, although he possesses fantastic technique and ball control, he fails to dictate games in the manor Modric does, or provide the thrust of Di María. Whether Ancelotti will want another central midfielder at the club, given Di María started the season as a winger, remains to be seen, due to the Argentinian's form when asked to play in the middle. He also showed excellent tactical astuteness to tuck in, and allow Marcelo or Fábio Coentrão to bomb forward.
Up front, it is time to replace Karim Benzema. He is one of the best strikers in world football, but Ancelotti's 4-3-3 system would thrive with a more physical number nine. Robert Lewandowski would have been perfect, but the man he is going to replace at Bayern Munich, Mario Mandzukic would also represent a good option, and won't be excessively expensive.
Edison Cavani is another possibility for Madrid, and given he is playing second-fiddle to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Paris Saint Germain's need to sell in order to ease financial fair play problems, a deal would be beneficial for all parties. It might seem sensationalist to say Benzema needs to go, but a better rounded striker would take Madrid to a new level.
Ancelotti is in the enviable position of managing one of the best squads in world football. But with this privilege comes responsibility, and the Madrid board are unlikely to settle for anymore third place finishes in the leagues. That being said, Ancelotti is a master tactician, and more than capable of fine tuning the Madrid machine to perfection.
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