On Florentino’s big summer: Real Madrid shorten the bench

Florentino Perez, Madrid’s shark in the back room Image: Wikipedia

The final tally is in on an incredible transfer season that both saw Los Blancos break their own transfer record, but also become a major seller themselves.

Out: Carvalho, Essien, Albiol, Callejon, Higuaín, Adan, Kaká, and Özil

In: Carvajal, Illarramendi, Isco, Casemiro, Bale

While the big money moves stole the headlines, it’s Real Madrid’s leaner bench that is the key to their 2013-14 campaign.

In June I reflected on Mourinho’s mismanagement of stars as a big part of his undoing at the Capital club. Underlying this was the overly packed bench. The slow start to the season, mixed with prolonged or permanent spots on the bench for star players increased doubt in the manager’s choices, frayed egos, and ended up burning away much of the goodwill from the 100-point season in mere months.

Ancelotti has too many central midfielders, but aside from that has a very clear front and back four (to say nothing of the keeper debate). There is no contingency or waste on this bench. And this provides Real Madrid with a more clear sense of purpose and a more obvious path to the top. With a midfield more suited than ever to play the ball on the ground and maximize chances for its scoring players, Florentino Perez has gambled more assertively this summer than in years past.

There will obviously be questions on whether Gareth Bale will make up for the goals scored/produced by Higuaín/Özil, and the biggest question mark in the outfield might as well be carved into one of Karim Benzema’s buzz cuts. But one can’t help but think that by cutting on down on individual talents, that the burden is shifted onto the team. And early signs that it’s working are made clear by three victories and six goals split by Isco(3), Benzema(2), and Cristiano.

 

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