By Brendon Netto
This Season's Stats
|La Liga: 3rd
Champions League: Round of 16
Copa del Rey: Round of 16
Supercopa de Espana: Winners
Win %: 57.14%
GF ratio: 2.43
GA ratio: 1.18
Their Season So Far
It's been a season of turmoil for Real Madrid. It got off to a great start when they beat Barcelona over two legs to lift the Supercopa prior to the start of the league but that was as good as it got for them. They are through to the last 16 of the Champions League after encountering a difficult group but their second place finish means that they now have the unenviable task of facing Manchester United in the knockout stages.
After winning the title and enjoying a good run in the Champions League last season, Los Blancos have been extremely poor this time around and currently lie 3rd in the league table, a massive 16 points behind leaders Barcelona.
Erratic defending has cost them
The atmosphere around the club always seems on edge. Cristiano Ronaldo's complaint of being unhappy at the club early on in the season really set the tone. Rumours of a rift between Iker Casillas and Ronaldo were at large and Jose Mourinho seems to be constantly fighting a losing battle with the club's fans and hierachy. The latest controversy has been the dropping of Casillas for the first time in ten years at Madrid in a 3-2 defeat away to Malaga.
The politics and controversies at the club seem to be hindering their performances. Their defending has let them down and they have been uncharacteristically vulnerable from set-pieces. It's becoming increasingly clear that the Champions League is Madrid's sole opportunity to rescue what has been a poor season so far.
What They Need
A quick glance at Real Madrid's squad would convince you that they have everything they need to be successfull at the highest level but a closer inspection does reveal a few cracks.
Ronaldo has maintained an incredible scoring record since his arrival at the club but when he hasn't been on target this season, Madrid have found it difficult to find another source of goals. Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain are good strikers but they rarely dominate games like Ronaldo does when he's on song.To match the goal-scoring exploits of Barcelona, Madrid need more than just Ronaldo's goals and others 'chipping in'. They need a significant contribution from another world-class goal scorer.
Praying for support?
Their defending has been a cause for concern. Pepe and Sergio Ramos have looked anything but reliable in the heart of defence. Neither have the kind of composure that's essential to any defence and are invariably prone to errors. They have the pace and technical ability but considerably lack an ability to read the game.
With Xabi Alonso playing as the deepest midfielder, Sami Khedira has been attempting to make more runs forward but it's clear that bombing forward from midfield is not a natural aspect of his game. A central midfielder who can drive them on and force the issue would be a good addition.
Summon for more goals?
The Colombian hitman seems destined to move either to Real Madrid or Chelsea. In all liklihood, he may only make a move in the summer but the possibility of him completing a transfer in January cannot be ruled out. He would be a massive signing for Los Blancos and his goals should provide Ronaldo with the support he needs in that department. Not having to rely on the Portuguese star to come up with the goods on a regular basis would only benefit the team.
Furthermore, Falcao has a lot more to his game than just goals. He is regarded as one of the most complete strikers in the world and with good reason as he constantly pulls defenders around with his movement and creates space for other players. Ultimately, Madrid will have to tussle with Chelsea for the Atletico Madrid star's signature.
A speed-king down the left
Gareth Bale has attracted interest from the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid for a couple of years now. He is comfortably Tottenham Hotspur's most valuable asset and the London club have had to work hard to fend off interested parties thus far.
The 23 year old is one of the most threatening and efficient winger around. He is very direct and once he's in full flight, he is impossible to catch. Madrid could definitely do with his pace and brilliant crosses but will probably have to wait until the end of the season to make a move.
Who Could Leave
Kaka is the most likely player to make for the exits at Real Madrid. He has been afforded limited opportunities this season owing to the availabilty of Luka Modric and Mesut Ozil but he has given a good account of himself when he did feature. A return to AC Milan didn't quite pan out for the Brazilian over the summer but there are more than a few clubs interested in him.
|Who do you think Real Madrid should sign? Leave your comments below or discuss with the writer on Twitter @BrendonNetto.|
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