What big changes is Rafa Benitez making at Real Madrid?

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Carlo Ancelotti's departure from Real Madrid was yet another added to the list of the seemingly ridiculous decisions to part company with a world class coach. The Italian achieved 'La Decima' in his first season in charge as well as a Copa Del Rey trophy to add to his name.

So why would the hierarchy at Madrid decide to get rid of a man who is well known as a world class manager and achieved success in his debut season?

It is one of football's mysteries, one that I certainly cannot solve, but it happened. So now it is Rafa Benitez's turn to accept the infamous role at Madrid and it appears he is already trying to implement changes in the squad to make his time at the club a success.


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Poor defence

One criticism of Real last season was their inept defensive system at times, particularly against the big teams - a 4-0 loss to arch rivals Atletico was the harshest proof of this fact.

Real were able to blow away the smaller teams in La Liga with their awesome attacking power which was helped by the poor quality of the opponents at times. In some domestic games they could possibly field a team without a defence and still come out victorious such is their offensive power and the weakness of certain clubs.

Nevertheless, on too many occasions last season against the bigger teams Real's defence was unable to cope, they only took four points from the teams around them in the league and one of those was the 3-1 win against Barcelona during the early stages of the season.

A 2-2 draw against Valencia at the end of the season was arguably the final nail in their domestic coffin and once again it was the defence which let Real down against a higher calibre opposition.

If a 22 game win streak during a season can't bring more success than the Club World Cup then I'm sorry but there has to be a certain degree of defensive neglect.

Rafa trying to build defensive stability

It seems Rafa has thought logically and is attempting to rectify the negative defensive trend which is plaguing Madrid and perhaps costing them titles.

The evidence is solely based on pre-season but it seems as if there is already more emphasis being placed on defensive shape and simply making this Madrid team harder to beat.

During the Audi Cup Real put on a dominant display against Tottenham winning 2-0, with Gareth Bale scoring against his former club, but it was Madrid's discipline and shape which was most eye-catching.

In the second half Madrid were happy to sit back letting Spurs have the ball and then used their counter attacking prowess to harm them.

The final of the same tournament against Bayern Munich was almost a defensive training exercise for Madrid as Bayern dominated possession as Real's midfield sat off and tried to nullify Bayern's attack - the German giants eventually secured a 1-0 win in the 87th minute.

Rafa may have just been experimenting with different players in his squad but it seems clear that he wants Real to start defending as a unit and shut out high level opposition.

Can the players play this way?

For me Madrid lack a true defensive midfielder, an enforcer to break up the play. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are both fantastic technical footballers but you cannot put them into the same category as say Nemanja Matic or Sergio Busquets.

Lucas Silva and Casemiro are more defence minded players but I highly doubt that Benitez will pick them due to their relative inexperience at the highest level - maybe selling Sami Khedira was a mistake? Food for thought.

However, it does seem that Benitez is trying to solve a key issue at Madrid one that has seen their domestic status fall but whether the current crop of players at Madrid can fulfil his wishes in highly competitive fixtures is yet to be seen.

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