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James Rodriguez could hamper Real Madrid balance

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Whilst Barcelona have gone about their transfer business astutely, signing a much needed centre-forward in Luis Suárez, adding drive in the midfield through Ivan Rakitic and finally adding a central-defender to their squad when they signed Jeremy Mathieu, Real Madrid's approach has been somewhat different.

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Florentino Pérez's galactico drive

Pérez's galactico drive is very much back underway, following the failure of the Zidanes y Pavones era during his first term, in which global superstars were paired with Los Blancos academy graduates. So when James Rodríguez starred for Colombia at the World Cup he became Real Madrid's number one priority, regardless of the fact they don't actually need him. 

James joined for £63 million, with "James 10" shirts amassing 345,000 sales in the first forty-eight hours, equating to £20 million. A marketing masterstroke yes, but the question surrounding how James, and his new colleague Toni Kroos would fit into Carlo Ancelotti's side remain.

4-1-2-1-2 

A formation favoured by Liverpool last season, the tight diamond offers James the chance to play in his favoured number ten role, whilst facilitating defensive protection in midfield, provided by either Xabi Alonso or Asier Illarramendi.

Luka Modric and Toni Kroos would the the first choice pairing in central midfield, with James and Isco competing for the playmaker role. As the new golden boy of Madrid, it is difficult to see Isco usurping James, so questions should be asked about where the 22-year-old Spaniard's future lies. Up front, Karim Benzema would be the casualty from Madrid's current set-up, making way for a tantalising partnership between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

4-3-3 

When Carlo Ancelotti switched from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 early in Madrid's season, the results were obvious for all to see. Breathtakingly fast counter-attacks were a mark of Madrid's Champions League win, with Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo supported by the standout player of the season, Ángel Di Maria. With Di Maria seemingly heading for the Bernabeu exit, the natural successor would be James rather than Kroos.

Able to dictate from the middle, or drift into attacking positions from the left, James' flexibility would allow Ancelotti to continue with his favoured formation. Kroos' inclusion would be dependant on dropping, Alonso, which won't be hard if he continues his dismal World Cup form.

4-2-3-1  

Real Madrid supporters should be very worried if Ancelotti switches to a 4-2-3-1 formation to accommodate James. Flanked by Ronaldo and Bale in support of Benzema, with Modric and Kroos sitting in midfield, Madrid would be extremely unbalanced. Although the potential in attack would be stunning, asking Kroos and Modric to be the axis in midfield is dangerous.

Neither player is particularly defensive, although it is an area of Modric's game that has improved since joining the club. Kroos played his best football in a midfield trio last season, for both club and country, allowing him the freedom to float around the pitch and dictate play. The German wouldn't have the same luxury in a 4-2-3-1 formation. 

A nice problem to have 

Carlo Ancelotti is a fine tactician, so Madrid's squad is in very good hands. It won't be easy to include all the attacking potential the squad has to offer without unbalancing the side, so the likes of Benzema, Alonso, Isco, Illarra and Jesé, when he returns from injury, may have to get used to sitting on the bench more often than not. However, Madrid's strength in depth is almost unrivalled in world football.

Given Ronaldo's injury struggles of late, a crucial side-effect of Madrid's summer transfers could be alleviating the pressure on his shoulders, and allowing the Portuguese forward to be rested on a more regular basis.

August 24th promises to be an intriguing date, as we get our first chance to see how Real Madrid are going to line up in La Liga. I for one can't wait! 

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Topics:
La Liga
Barcelona
Real Madrid
Football

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