Real Madrid: 5 players who must shine when football returns
Real Madrid RB Dani Carvajal
Real Madrid can win titles if these five players shine in 2020.
Due to their depth of talent, especially young talent, throughout the roster, Real Madrid remain favorites to win La Liga in 2019-2020 despite falling behind Barcelona again.
After all, Real dominated Barcelona 2-0 in El Clasico this past March. But one week later, they dropped points in frustrating fashion again, falling 2-1 to Real Betis.
Here are five players who must be great in 2020 in order for Real Madrid to be at their best as a team.
Real Madrid RB Dani Carvajal
The best right back in La Liga, Dani Carvajal is a player of paramount importance to Real Madrid. He is one of the team’s leading assist providers in the league and is one of the best defensive right backs you’ll find in European football.
For Carvajal, consistency and over-aggressiveness can be problems. He was exposed badly in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 against Manchester City when world-class winger Raheem Sterling entered the pitch.
Carvajal must step up his performances against the best players in the world and play up to their level, especially in the 2019-2020 Champions League campaign against City if the tournament resumes. He must continue to supply crosses and carry the ball into the opposition third to support the right winger, but he must also do his defensive duties so that Casemiro and Raphael Varane aren’t stretched thin.Real Madrid CB Sergio Ramos
It all starts with the captain, and it always has started with the captain. Real Madrid center back Sergio Ramos has made his fair share of baffling mistakes in 2019-2020, but they are magnified by the nature of his position. If a forward misses an easy chance, all can be forgiven and forgotten, moreso the latter. But whenever Ramos or Raphael Varane mess up, the criticism can erupt rather quickly.
Ramos has been on the receiving end of criticism at times this season, but even the most critical Madridistas know that Ramos is one of the team’s most important players. He is second behind Karim Benzema on the team in scoring with five goals in La Liga, as Ramos is a cool penalty taker and a wonderful aerial presence in the box.
Often bombing forward to support the attack, Ramos’ crisp passing and technical quality make him an asset there. As long as Casemiro, Raphael Varane, Ferland Mendy, and others can cover, all is well for Ramos there.
Real Madrid CF Karim Benzema
Another striker who needs to play at the highest level possible, Karim Benzema was right there with Casemiro and Lionel Messi as La Liga’s best overall player in the first half of the 2019-2020 season. However, shortly after Eden Hazard’s first significant injury in PSG, Benzema’s goals slipped precipitously.
Benzema is a world-class No. 9. He creates chances for other forwards and attacking midfielders at a more prolific rate than anyone else at the position, as he’s a tremendous dribbler especially in tight areas. Benzema’s movement and keen eye for a pass are also extremely beneficial assets to the Real Madrid attack. Cristiano Ronaldo can surely attest to Benz’s importance.
When Eden Hazard returns to the pitch and the 2019-2020 La Liga season resumes play, Benzema should hit the ground running. In fact, he needs to. Because Benzema is still Real’s leading assist provider and by far their leading scorer with 14 La Liga goals to second-place Sergio Ramos’ five.
Benzema completes 85 percent of his passes, per WhoScored.com, and eats defenses for lunch with his dribbling. He is a nightmare for defenders to stop. But without another top scorer and with questions surrounding Gareth Bale’s health and ability to contribute, Benzema must shoulder the goal-scoring burden. Fairly or unfairly, that’s how he will be evaluated in 2020.Real Madrid RW Gareth Bale
Real Madrid won’t be able to sell Gareth Bale until the summer 2020 transfer window, and while they want to remove his wages from their budget, it’s doubtful they can find a suitor. They will run into the same problems they did in 2019, as the market is even more difficult now due to COVID-19. But maybe Newcastle can throw them an offer.
In any case, Bale’s best bet is staying in Madrid, which appears to be his preference. The fans can whistle him, but he remains satisfied with his situation at the club. Real Madrid, however, need far more from Bale, and his wages only make his lack of production stand out even more.
Bale’s quality is still there. His outside-the-boot pass against Granada and brace against Villarreal were glimpses of the quality that remains. Nobody can doubt Bale physically. He is a tremendous athlete with spellbinding explosiveness and great strength on the ball. The technique has never left either.
What Bale needs is support, a clear mind, and consistent health. He’s been dealt a bad hand recently, getting hit hard by the injury bug. Perhaps Bale can get back on track for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season and prove he still has value to Los Blancos. The club needs him to lock down that right wing spot again and score goals.
Karim Benzema will continue to start at striker for Real Madrid, as he is still the best player at the position in La Liga. However, Real fans are rightfully frustrated with the team’s dip in goals, as Benzema has scored just twice in La Liga this year.
Backup Luka Jovic will get more opportunities to shine in 2020, because Real need to see if he can be the 32-year-old’s long-term replacement. The club paid 60 million euros to Eintracht Frankfurt for the player, and while they have their eyes on Erling Haaland, they need to know if they actually have to pay upwards of 75 million euros for the Borussia Dortmund star.
If Jovic, who must recover from a fractured foot suffered during quarantine, can shine in his increased opportunities this year, then perhaps Real Madrid can save some money and pursue a different upgrade in addition to elite PSG wide forward Kylian Mbappe.
Looking at his performances against Villarreal, Sevilla, and Osasuna, Jovic has all the tools to be a great No. 9 for Real Madrid. But he must seize his opportunities. Jovic showed world-class talent at Eintracht, and Madridistas hope that same ability shines through in 2020-2021. This needs to be his year.