Rafa Benitez must make changes to succeed at Real Madrid

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God help Rafael Benitez.

The ex-Napoli manager has gone where others fear to tread and taken over at Real Madrid after two seasons from Carlo Ancelotti that were, statistically, the best in history for a manager at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It makes the decision to fire the Italian all the more baffling but in any event, the Spaniard with Madridismo coursing through his veins now has his dream job.

Back at the club where it all began for Benitez as both player and manager.

With arch-rivals Barcelona proudly parading the treble at the end of the season whilst Real had to be content with the Spanish Supercup and Club World Cup, Benitez knows exactly what's required to turn the tables at the top of La Liga.

Let's take a look at three things he needs to change to ensure success...

Solid defensively

If there is one thing that Benitez is known for it is a solid defence. Wherever he has worked, the quality of the back line has been a pre-requisite for success.

We'll likely see an end to the swashbuckling nature of play under Ancelotti's tutelage but the Spaniard isn't at Real to make friends. He's there to demand, and achieve, success.

An abrasive management style may well put a few noses out of joint along the way but with an extraordinary capacity for tactical astuteness, Benitez will succeed.

Conceding double the amount of goals that Barca did in 2014/15 will be addressed immediately.

Switching Ronaldo and Bale

Although Real were still incredibly efficient in goalscoring terms against some of the lesser teams in La Liga, when it came to some of the big games, the opposition had it all worked out.

Bale in particular was often moribund in attacking terms because, in essence, he was offering nothing different than the previous twelve months and so was much easier to defend against.

A failure from both to score against Atletico Madrid and only the odd goal from Ronaldo against Barcelona are cases in point.

Bale has already suggested a move to the left side so that he and Ronaldo are once again taking up a more natural wingers role.

The need to always come inside disappears leaving either player one on one with their full-back.

There aren't too many defenders that are going to live with the pace of both players down the outside channels.


Who will Rafa's first choice be?

De Gea, if he arrives? Iker Casillas? Or perhaps even the impressive Keylor Navas...

Whomever gets the nod, Benitez needs to be firm and very definite in his decision making process.

Casillas has been an exemplary custodian for both club and country for years now, the Mourinho debacle aside. Benitez certainly won't be swayed by the whistles and boos from the terraces.

De Gea continues to go from strength to strength at Manchester United but has still been unable to dislodge Casillas from the national team. That speaks volumes.

Navas has never been given the chance at Real since signing and he needs to be played or binned. Simple as that.

With decision made, it's one less conundrum for Benitez to worry about as he sets about restoring harmony in the squad before the start of the new season.

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James Rodriguez
La Liga
Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid
Karim Benzema
Gareth Bale

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