Eyebrows were raised when Florentino Perez announced the arrival of Rafael Benitez as the new Real Madrid boss. There was a mixed reaction from the Bernabeu faithful on Benitez’s appointment as coach, with many fans claiming that he was not the right man to lead arguably the biggest club in Europe.
Benitez has successfully managed some of the biggest clubs across Europe including Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli. Benitez’s teams have been known for their defensive solidity and he has found success with this style of play.
With Real Madrid, however, it is a bit different for Benitez. At Madrid, he boasts one of the best attacks in world football at the moment. He has at his disposal a young but extremely talented midfield including the likes of James Rodriguez, Isco, Toni Kroos, Illarramendi, Casemiro and Lucas Silva, and also one of the best midfielders that the game has seen in the form of Luka Modric. Not to forget the BBC trident forward line, which has been lethal in attack for the Blancos for the past two years. But what if one of the two Bs in BBC leaves Madrid? What if the rumors surrounding a possible departure of Karim Benzema from the Spanish capital turn out to be true?
Benitez has already been experimenting with the squad, as he played Bale in the number 10 role in the absence of James against AS Roma in a pre-season friendly. There have already been claims that Ronaldo might play as an out-an-out striker for Benitez, and if Benzema leaves Madrid, this might just be the case. Should this happen, Ronaldo will leave a void in the left side of Madrid’s squad, which can be filled by either James Rodriguez or Isco. Let us not forget there is Jese Rodriguez who can also play in his favorite left wing position. Again James or Isco will be the first choices for the play-maker’s role in the squad, with Bale operating on the right side. If Benitez decides to continue with Bale as Madrid’s number 10, then two of the above mentioned three players, i.e. Jese, James or Isco will have to operate as wingers.
Another option for Benitez would be to keep playing Ronaldo on his favored left side, and to play either Bale or Jese as the number 9, and the other one as the right winger. This will leave Benitez with a choice between James and Isco to play as an attacking midfielder. This, however, seems unlikely to happen as Benitez has not favored Bale as a striker or a winger so far.
Another prospect is the signing of Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus. The 26-year-old German international will offer a lot more than Karim Benzema, as he can play both as a striker as well as a winger. Reus has the ability to fulfill the play-maker role too, as he has done many times for Dortmund.
Benitez has insisted that Bale can succeed as a number 10, and has hinted that he will build the team around the 26-year-old Welshman. Benitez has a history of falling out with senior players, and this might not go down well with the Bernabeu superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, and the fans that idolize the Portuguese.
Benzema has been a key figure in the Madrid squad since his arrival from French club Lyon in 2009. Although Benzema has pledged his future at Madrid via his agent, the speculation surrounding the potential departure of the Frenchman does not go away. If that happens, the world will see – better or not – a new Real Madrid with Rafael Benitez at the helm.