Real Madrid are set for a busy summer ahead. Despite an extraordinary display to outwit Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League, the thirst for quality in the squad is apparent.
The board has already identified multiple targets in the coming summer, with Kylian Mbappe unquestionably the leading choice for Florentino Perez and co.
Recent reports suggest the Frenchman may even reach an agreement with Real Madrid as early as next week, which would see him join the club on a free transfer in the summer.
In addition to Mbappe, Real Madrid remain keen on the services of Erling Haaland. The Norwegian is expected to leave Borussia Dortmund in the summer, following a disastrous campaign that saw the club fail to reach the Round of 16 stage of the UEFA Champions League or even the UEFA Europa League.
Real Madrid are, no doubt, hoping to unite both Haaland and Mbappe into the same team next year, a duo that could potentially create havoc for opposing defences in the years to come.
And here, we will be taking a look at how Real Madrid can possibly fit the two generational talents, along with the existing stars such as Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema into the same lineup next season.
A generic 4-4-2
A 4-4-2 appears to be the best solution when it comes to fitting four top-class attackers in the same team. This system could see Karim Benzema and Erling Haaland form a strike-partnership at the top, offering a unique combination of speed, technique and strength.
Both Kylian Mbappe and Vinicius Junior could operate on the flanks, offering more pace and dynamism going forward. The collective brilliance of these four players could easily make Real Madrid the team to beat in Europe.
The system can also effortlessly switch to a 4-2-3-1, with Benzema dropping deep to operate in a number ten role. Given the Frenchman’s technical ability, he may thrive in this position, operating just behind Haaland.
However, the 4-4-2 could create an imbalance in the Real Madrid midfield. The shift to a double-pivot could make it difficult for Los Blancos to control games. It would also significantly weaken the second line of press, making the team susceptible to counter.
The experimental 3-1-4-2
Systems such as 3-1-4-2 or a 3-1-5-1 are often used by coaches like Julian Nagelsmann, especially in the face of an injury crisis.
Such a formation might yield benefit for Real Madrid as it would allow Casemiro to operate in his favoured defensive midfield role while retaining the place of both Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the starting eleven. The influence the two have on the pitch cannot be understated.
On the flip side, though, it might force both Vinicius and Mbappe to do the defensive work, which is never a good idea. It could ultimately increase the pressure on the centre-backs and may ultimately accentuate the need for defensive reinforcement.
Real Madrid would essentially require players like Lucas Hernandez or Kieran Tierney – players that are suited to accomplish a wide range of roles in the centre-back/fullback hybrid.
While David Alaba is more than capable of filling that void on the left-hand side, signing a top-class centre-back could be tricky in the summer, especially if Real Madrid do end up with both Mbappe and Haaland.
As things currently stand, Mbappe appears to be on the verge of joining Los Blancos, but Erling Haaland is yet to make a decision on his future. Real Madrid are among three clubs, along with Barcelona and Manchester City, that are interested in the Norwegian.
The coming weeks could be important in the context of Haaland’s future, though the forward, in the meantime, will focus on his recovery before the upcoming game against Arminia Bielefeld.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia
For all the institutional and sporting catastrophes Valencia suffer from, they put up a resilient show against Real Madrid last month and held them to a draw in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup.
Having fired Gennaro Gattuso less than 48 hours ago, Los Che will be under the command of an interim coach at Santiago Bernabeu in the hope of repeating their feat from Saudi Arabia.
After all, they are struggling this season with just 20 points in 18 league appearances.
Valencia may not be the top team it used to be a couple of seasons ago, but there is a fighting spirit to the squad that makes them special.
As Real Madrid looks to make amends for their dropped points against La Real, some important considerations cross the manager’s mind regarding the clash against Los Che.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Valencia.
1. More names at Ancelotti’s disposal
Real Madrid’s long injury list has been a thorn in Carlo Ancelotti’s feet for a long time now. While the manager has had close to five players unavailable through fitness concerns, two names were considered irreplaceable.
Daniel Carvajal is the first on that list. The Spanish International’s presence gave the club hope after Lucas Vazquez’s injury last month, but almost as if planned, the 30-year-old immediately suffered a blow in training and was forced to sit out.
For four games, Ancelotti was thus forced to field Nacho Fernandez as his right-back. The centre-back did a good job at covering out of position, however, will be pushed back to the bench on Thursday as Los Blancos celebrate the return of Carvajal.
The defender is not the only one making his way back, as Aurelien Tchouameni also received the medical all-clear earlier this week.
The French pivot hobbled off an hour into Real Madrid’s league clash against Villarreal in the first week of January and has been sidelined for close to a month.
His absence pushed his coach to try numerous permutations in midfield, but it was finally Eduardo Camavinga who stamped his authority on the position.
With Tchouameni back roaring, his place in the starting lineup seems to be written in stone. One can expect the Frenchman to be deployed alongside Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos for his return to action on Thursday.
2. Concern shifts from right to left-back
The Merengues will finally have a natural right-back available to play against Valencia midweek. However, that does not signal the end of the Italian tactician’s trouble-riddles period.
Just when one full-back position returned to a state of normalcy, Real Madrid now have a crisis at left-back.
Ferland Mendy picked up a thigh injury earlier this week and will miss the team’s next two months of action at least. To say that this is a big blow to the club’s plans would be an understatement, for Mendy was the only natural left-back available in the squad.
David Alaba would appear to be the best-placed alternative, but the Austrian is ruled out through injury himself. Placed at a lack of options, Ancelotti confirmed in his press conference earlier today that Eduardo Camavinga would play there against Valencia.
The youngster has played in the defensive position earlier but will face the heat going up against Jose Luis Gaya at Santiago Bernabeu.
Given that Valencia’s right flank put up a memorable display when the two teams met last month, one can be certain that Camavinga’s performance can make or break Real Madrid’s night.
3. No margin for error
Less than halfway through the league season, Los Blancos already find themselves five points behind Barcelona. The wide gap is not a consequence of the defending champions’ poor form but the sheer consistency of Xavi Hernandez’s men, who cannot stop winning.
Having won the Supercopa de Espana last month, the Catalans are currently riding high on confidence. With their season heading from strength to strength, Real Madrid must hold on and wait for the right opportunity to topple the tables.
The Galacticos‘ draw against Real Sociedad added two points to the gap between the top two sides last week. At this stage, Ancelotti’s men cannot afford any further slip-ups for a larger gap would be too much for the men in white to compensate.
Every game henceforth will be a final for Real Madrid in La Liga. Three points are the bare minimum the club can walk away with from any fixture, and that mission will start from their game against Valencia.