Can Ancelotti secure the missing piece of silverware from last season?
With one trophy already secured this season and another potentially on the way on Friday, Real Madrid will be desperate to add a La Liga title to their silverware collection this time round and dethrone city rivals Atletico.
Despite more European honours last year with a squad regarded as one of the strongest in Europe, the Spanish giants didn’t rest on their laurels this summer and have strengthened significantly.
Keylor Navas will provide real competition for Iker Casillas, with the Spanish international already under intense pressure to produce after his trials and tribulations last season and during the summer at the World Cup.
Nevertheless, it may bring out the best in him, and that effect will also be the intention in midfield after the addition of World Cup winner Toni Kroos.
The 24-year-old is undoubtedly highly talented with an ability to dictate the tempo of a game and control proceedings from various positions in the middle of the pitch. While Ancelotti does have decisions to make given the level of competition in that role, Kroos makes them a more efficient and silky unit.
In addition, perhaps the more high-profile signing of James Rodriguez continues to prove the club’s commitment to bringing the world’s best talents to Madrid, and there is a huge amount of excitement surrounding the Colombian.
Having scored his first goal for the club in the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana, James will be relieved and full of confidence moving forward, but he also represents somewhat of a headache for Ancelotti.
While the majority of the starting line-up picks itself with significant depth on the bench to challenge on numerous fronts, it remains to be seen how the Italian lines up from an offensive point of view.
Naturally, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will start when fit, and it can be assumed that Karim Benzema will provide presence, a killer instinct and generally act as a foil through the middle.
However, with the likes of Isco, Angel Di Maria, Sami Khedira, Asier Illarramendi and Xabi Alonso all sat on the sidelines, what is the best line-up and formation for Los Blancos?
It is expected that against the inferior teams in Spain, Ancelotti will opt to play James in between the lines in order to help break their opponents down.
In contrast, as demonstrated against Atleti in the first leg of the Supercopa, Alonso came in to form a midfield-three alongside Kroos and Luka Modric to provide more steel and protection against a direct rival where the battle in the middle is key to winning the game.
Ancelotti will likely rotate and move between these two formations moving forward, but the former AC Milan and PSG coach will undoubtedly welcome the options at his disposal in what will be a gruelling, yet potentially highly rewarding season.
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