With the Champions League Round of 16 draws being made, Real Madrid, along with all other big European clubs, are slowly moving into the business end of the season. When Real started the season, they were surrounded by doubts. Doubts about Carlo Ancelotti being the correct option for the club, doubts due to the limited transfer activity, doubts about whether the squad is capable of winning titles, and so on.
For a club like Real Madrid, winning trophies at the end of a season is a vital measure of success. Hence, last season under Zinedine Zidane, despite being one that saw the club through to another Champions League semifinal appearance and a title fight that stretched itself to the very last Matchday will be treated as an unsuccessful one on the very face by football pundits.
Therefore, going trophy-less for another season was something that Real Madrid couldn’t afford. Well, as things stand now it seems like Real are on their way to a few titles by the time the season ends. They are performing well above expectations. The club has always had its critics and this time, general opinions suggest that there are serious complaints about Carlo Ancelotti’s rotation tactics. Squad depth is a related aspect to rotation – an aspect that people have been underrating Madrid.
Well, I am of the view that Ancelotti will have to rotate his squad at some point in the season. I understand him not taking risks during this tough stretch of games but I do expect changes when we face Cadiz in the next game. The outcome, however, hasn’t been bad at all. Real Madrid’s reunion with Antonio Pintus has certainly helped and all Real’s talismans in respective positions have shown tremendous fitness. They’ll for sure pull this until the Christmas break and the next transfer window. That is when Madridistas expect Florentino Perez to bring in reinforcements to help the squad depth.
Real Madrid has great squad depth
However, even without those extra signings that Real could make in January, their squad depth is the least of my worries. In fact, I believe Real Madrid has great depth in their squad. The only reason the world hasn’t seen much of it yet is that the Italian boss has chosen not to use these players. However, I will break it down for you.
I’ll start with the forwards because this is where Real’s squad depth has already come to use. Luka Jovic is the first player I’d like to talk about. In the recent games, he has shown clearly why he is more than just another player on the bench. He put in a stellar effort in the game against La Real and won the MOTM. He then played really well against Inter and Atletico Madrid too.
The wings have sufficient talent with players like Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale, and Lucas Vazquez who all are a few steps behind from first choice Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Junior. And, each of these players has shown us that they can help the team.
Now coming to the midfield, Real Madrid made a smart signing on the deadline day in Eduardo Camavinga who is on his way towards becoming Real Madrid’s next super-sub. He is truly capable of starting games and the ones against Osasuna or Sheriff are testaments of the same. Besides him, there is also Federico Valverde, a player I don’t need to sell. Just look at his big-game performances from last season. That man is a star and certainly Real’s future in the middle of the park.
To support these two tried and tested youngsters there is Dani Ceballos who still needs to prove his worth at Real Madrid. Nonetheless, there are options available if Carlo Ancelotti chooses to set up a totally unique starting trio in the midfield for games in the Copa del Rey. I think he can do it without too many worries. These are players who can see games through.
When there may be a need for experience there is always Isco who has shown us that he is good enough to have a role in this squad this season if necessary. Moreover, Lucas Vazquez, too, is listed as a midfielder on the club website and a hardworking club servant as he will do his best no matter which part of the pitch he’s introduced in.
Now coming to the last part of the squad, the defense. Here is where one could argue that things are tight. Apart from Real Madrid’s preferred CB-pairing of Eder Militao and David Alaba, there only is Nacho who has undone his mistakes from the earlier games in his last few outings. He can play at any given position in the defense but is at home when playing centrally. He can get the job done on the right as well but struggles when he plays on the left.
Club captain Marcelo hasn’t had much to do so far in the season. And, it simply is because he hasn’t been able to maintain the same amount of flair as earlier from his prime years. However, using him against easy opponents could be an option. Jesus Vallejo doesn’t have my trust yet, but he is still an option, on paper. And, last but not the least, Lucas Vazquez can pull off reliable shifts on the right-back position.
La Fabrica products add another layer of depth to the available options
The tone of the last two paragraphs might seem a little pessimistic. But, here’s the solution. Yes, things are a bit tight in defense but there always is La Fabrica to our rescue. Real Madrid’s academy has produced fine graduates throughout history and the recent additions are no less.
Miguel Gutierrez, for instance, showed us what a gem he is. Carlo Ancelotti hasn’t turned to the Castilla prodigies yet but as the season progresses and if there aren’t major depth signings he’ll have to. Gutierrez has featured this season too and he has been the same gem of a player he was from last season.
Apart from him, there is Mario Gila who is a brilliant central defender with exceptional positional smartness. He too can help the defense out per need. Castilla’s Lucas Vazquez, Marvin Park is another player who is capable of putting in shifts at the right-back position apart from playing on the right-wing. And, players like Antonio Blanco and Sergio Arribas can help in midfield and the attack respectively. In fact, they do impressively. What could be better for a Castilla player to break into the first-team after all?
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And to put a strong end to the argument, Real Madrid has one brilliant keeper in the backup in Andriy Lunin. Look no far than the pre-season friendlies, Lunin will soon be a name to remember. I think we’ll see more of him as the Copa del Rey catches pace shortly. The squad depth, therefore, doesn’t look bad at all. This is an aspect of this Real squad that people should talk more about.