REAL MADRID | BENÍTEZ
21 starting elevens in 22 games
Between 16 muscular injuries and squad rotation, the ‘míster’ Benítez has only repeated the same 11 against Betis and Barcelona.
Rafa Benítez is at a delicate point in his tenure with los blancos despite qualification in the Champions League. Elimination from the Copa del Rey, inconsistency in performances from his charges and negative results have put the madrileño manager under the white-hot light of scrutiny, not to mention the discord in the dressing-room and murmurs on the treatment table.
Real Madrid have suffered 16 muscular injuries already this season, impeding Benítez from finding any continuity in his team selection, but the coach has also insisted upon his rotation policy meaning that out of the 21 official games played this season (15 la Liga encounters, 6 in the Champions League and one in the Copa del Rey), he has lined his team up with 21 different starting 11s. The team that kicked off a disastrous El Clásico was the same that started against Betis in their second la Liga match: the only time the first eleven has been repeated.
In the six matches of the Champions League group stage, Rafa Benítez decided on six different teams.
22 first-team team-sheets have revealed 14 different defensive partnerships, the most frequently deployed rearguard is composed of Danilo-Ramos-Varane-Marcelo who have played together six times. Twice in-a-row these four-man combinations lined out: Carvajal-Varane-Pepe-Marcelo; Carvajal-Varane-Ramos-Marcelo; and Danilo-Varane-Nacho-Marcelo. The 10 other defensive combinations have only played together once.
In midfield there have been 14 different combinations organised tactically in 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. The most-played midfield (three games in a row) has been Modric-Kroos-Isco; Modric-Casemiro-Kroos-Isco; and Kroos-Modric-James. Twice respectively los blancos lined out with Kovacic-Casemiro-Kroos-Isco; and Kovacic-Casemiro-Modric-Isco. The other 9 midfield combinations have played together just once.
In attack the BBC have played together only six times in 22 official matches, 5 with Cristiano-Benzema, and four times with Bale-Cristiano and Cristiano-Jesé. On one occasion, three different attacks were tried out on the same day.
Keylor Navas has been the exception playing 13 la Liga encounters and 4 in the Champions League, while Casilla has disputed 2 Liga games, the same number in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey match down in Cádiz.