Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane were the backbones of Real Madrid’s defence for several years, and Madrid shook when both players left the club in the same summer last year.
At that time, it seemed difficult to fathom how Los Blancos would forge another central defensive pairing equally as strong.
Yet, it did not even take two months for the baton to be passed. David Alaba and Eder Militao grabbed their opportunities by the scruff of the neck and established themselves as an indispensable part of the Real Madrid defence.
Such has been their consistency and dominance that the UEFA Champions League-winning defender Antonio Rudiger has found himself on the bench after moving to Madrid this past summer.
Speaking to Gustavo Hofman of ESPN Brasil on Friday, Militao opened up on the healthy competition he shares with his competitors and how they gelled together.
The Brazilian first praised David Alaba and elaborated on the chemistry he shared with the Austrian international.
“David’s very helpful, he joined and it already looked like we’ve been playing together for ages,” Militao said.
The former FC Porto ace was then quizzed about the addition of Rudiger to the squad and the competition he faced with the German. Militao responded by acknowledging his teammate’s quality and spoke about how he was an asset to the team.
“It’s always good to have this competition, right? Of course, with all due respect, we know Rüdiger’s potential, we know the player he is and how he will help us. You can already see what he’s been doing. He’s great,” Militao said.
Finally, the centre-back opened up about his dressing room relations and revealed that he shared a great friendship with Alaba even off the field.
“My friendship with David is great. He’s very playful, because of Rafinha in Bayern, he learnt a bit of Portuguese & we always talk a lot,” the Brazilian added.
With El Clasico coming up tomorrow, it will be interesting to see who among Militao, Alaba and Rudiger start in defence for Real Madrid. With the German suffering a facial injury in midweek, there is a good chance that he could be the one left out against Barcelona.
Talking up the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona as one of the greatest, he said: “For sure (it’s the greatest Clasico in the world)! Where everyone to see it, the whole world, because a derby between Real Madrid and Barcelona nobody wants to be left out, nobody wants to miss this game.“
Militao also highlighted the threat posed by Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski, saying: “He’s a great player, a great striker, but we also play in our style of play. We also study them a little and we also have to pay special attention to him, because he is a great player.“
Real Madrid summer signing set to return to training soon – report
Real Madrid’s main goal heading into the summer transfer window was to wrap up the signing of Jude Bellingham amid massive interest from Premier League giants such as Liverpool, Manchester City, and Chelsea.
Pep Guardiola’s City, especially, were ready to match and increase any salary Madrid offered, and were going strongly into the bidding war.
Eventually, Bellingham decided to join Madrid after they reached an agreement with Borussia Dortmund for €3 million.
However, following this, los blancos had to improvise a fair bit as Karim Benzema decided to leave the club to join Al-Ittihad on a free transfer. They were expecting him to continue for another season, at least, and it stumped their plans in the market.
In the next few weeks, Madrid chased forwards, and ended up signing Joselu, Brahim Diaz, and a certain Arda Guler, who was close to Barcelona before eventually ending up at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Unfortunately for Madrid, he is yet to play a single minute for the club after picking up a serious injury in pre-season. Despite being on the bench for a couple of games, Guler suffered a relapse in training, and was sidelined again.
Now, reports from Yagiz Sabuncuoglu say that the Turkish international is close to returning to team training.
Guler has slowly, but surely, been recovering from his injury, and could take to the pitch for his first minutes with the club in the next few weeks as Madrid look for solutions after a month full of injuries.
With Vinicius Jr, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni, Eder Militao, and Thibaut Courtois all out until early 2024, Madrid have relied on Castilla for reinforcements, but could do with Guler’s services in their forward line.
That said, Carlo Ancelotti and co. are expected to be extremely cautious when it comes to the Turkish international. The slightest spell of poor man-management here could make or break the youngster’s career.