Rafa Benitez arrives and Real Madrid in place of Carlo Ancelotti and will inherit the problems left behind by the Italian manager. These must be addressed in order for Madrid to be competitive again.
First, the goalkeeping conundrum needs to be figured out. Iker Casillas is no longer the reliable keeper he was, and a club like Real Madrid need a world-class anchor.
Keylor Navas was acquired at the start of last season to help offer a seemingly more consistent option to the declining Casillas, but he did not see much game time, as the Real Madrid board wished to keep the Spanish captain as number one.
When Navas did play, he appeared shaky and let in some soft goals, unlike his performances for Levante which won him goalkeeper of the year in Spain. There is also the departure of Diego Lopez that needs to mentioned. Real Madrid forced out an extremely solid keeper, who was more than able to perform at the highest standard.
The current solution to this problem appears to be the pursuit and eventual capture of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. Rumours from a plethora of sources have been linking De Gea with an imminent move to Madrid.
For the club, having a young, world-class and Spanish goalkeeper would be ideal. The case to consider if De Gea was purchased is who would leave. Madrid seems very attached to club icon Casillas, but it seems that even icons can be moved, with examples in Raul and Guti.
Navas is definitely unhappy with his backup role, and may push for a move out to another club. If so the backup goalkeeper position would fall to Fernando Pacheco, who is currently the third string keeper. He has yet to start a league game for Real Madrid.
The second problem Benitez must find a solution to is how to keep Cristiano Ronaldo firing on all cylinders. Despite turning 30 years old, Ronaldo has shown that he is still a force to be reckoned with, ending the season with back to back hat tricks.
His 48 goals in 35 appearances in La Liga mean this has been his best season to date. His play style has changed however. He is a lethal finisher in the box with both his feet and his head, with 43 of 48 goals coming from inside the penalty area.
His assist count has increased to its highest yet with 16 in the league. It looks like he is not slowing down, but a change in tactics in management could slow his production. One option could be to play Ronaldo as a striker, either beside or instead of Karim Benzema. Ronaldo has previously stated that he enjoys the space that playing on the wing allows him, so there may be resistance for any position change.
The third problem is getting the best out of Gareth Bale. The Welsh attacker did not have a bad season in terms of statistics, but his performances on the pitch showed wastefulness and selfishness.
He was unable to finish many sure opportunities and had a tendency to go for goal when there were teammates in better positions. The potential fix to this could involve a position change.
Putting Bale more centrally like he once played in Tottenham, would allow him to be more involved in the play, rather than competing with Ronaldo for possession on opposite sides of the field. He would be more involved in the build up plays, and thus would be forced to better distribute the ball.
Who would replace him at right wing? Jese has the potential to be a useful player out wide. There is also the possibility of the versatile Danilo moving forward.
What is the biggest problem facing Rafa Benitez at Real Madrid? Let us know below!
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