No 9 role? Give it a shot Ronaldo Malaysia's Mustapha "El Loco" Kamaruddin looks at Real Madrid's attacking options with strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema doubtful for this weekend's fixture


Real Madrid are poised to be without strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema for their tricky away Primera Liga clash against Levante at Ciutat de Valencia on Monday (4.30am, Malaysian time) because of muscle injuries.

Manager Jose Mourinho described both strikers as 'seriously doubtful' to see action.

Deep down the Portuguese tactician must be praying that at least one of them will recover in time for the match to make it business as usual for Real.

Mourinho, at the same time, must also be thinking deeply; what to do if both are actually out?

One obvious option is to play Cristiano Ronaldo up front. The Portuguese superstar has played the No 9 role before but he was not comfortable with it.

He still isn't.

Another option is to play another winger Jose Callejon there, which he did in the Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, when Higuain suffered the injury.

Callejon impressed with his energy and running to trouble the opponents.

However, the word in Madrid is that Ronaldo may well be the one to play the No 9 role.

If this is the case, he should take this challenge in his stride. After all, he has superb attacking qualities to make him one of the top players in the planet.

This is also the best chance for Ronaldo to prove he can operate from anywhere effectively to trouble opponents.

Look at his arch rival at Barcelona - Lionel Messi. The Argentina captain is now playing that "false No 9" role and successfully instills fear to his opponents, besides getting the goals, of course.

Messi was playing along the flanks or given a free role when he first started to play for the Barca senior team.

The good factor for Mourinho and Real is that there are others who can do that vital job of scoring goals.

One of them is Germany international attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil, who seems to have regained his form and scoring touches.

Just look at the equaliser he superbly struck two minutes before the end in the 2-2 draw with Dortmund.

Then there is Argentina international winger Angel Di Maria who is capable of getting goals too if he is on song.

Spain international centreback Sergio Ramos is deadly in set-pieces as well.

So there are several avenues which Real can get goals and Ronaldo may not have to worry that much if he is asked to play the role of No 9 against Levante.

Champions Real are slowly but surely climbing the table after a sluggish start to the season.

They are now third with 20 points from 10 matches.

Bitter rivals Barcelona are on top with 28 points while impressive Atletico Madrid are second with 25 points.

Real have still a lot of catching up to do in their bid to retain the title and they must get something against Levante.

Talking about Levante, they are doing well at the moment despite the absence of big names in their fold.

Juan Ignacio Martinez's men are now sixth in the table with 17 points     

Levante will naturally want to get points to strengthen their position in the standings especially at home.

Real were stunned 1-0 at this venue last season.

The Levante defence, led by 37-year-old centreback and captain Sergio Ballesteros, who stands at 6ft 2in, can be pretty stubborn.

That's why Ronaldo and Co have to raise their game if not they may return to Madrid with nothing.