The 2014-15 season for Real Madrid started as many believed it would win in every competition. In fact, the club created a 22 match winning streak. Unfortunately, the series of victories did not last in the second half of the season.
Real Madrid ended the season in second position, two points behind rivals Barcelona in first place. The side failed to retain its UEFA Champions League crown, losing in the semi-finals. It could not hold on to the Copa Del Rey title either, going down to cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid.
President Florentino Perez longs to re-live the days of success during the time of Los Blancos great, Alfredo Di Stefano. Hence the decision to “relieve” Ancelotti of his duties came as no surprise following a dismal season with no silverware. What was surprising was his replacement – Rafael Benitez. Some critics likened the decision to trading in a high-quality car for a Ford Focus.
Benitez is keen to build on the strong foundations set by Ancelotti and unite the squad. Real winning the pre-season International Champions Cup in Australia was their first piece of silverware. While it may be somewhat insignificant, supporters and critics hope it is the first step in the right direction under the Spanish coach.
For me the key player for this season is Isco. While some would be inclined to write Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco’s performances under great pressure last season have proven him to be a star on the rise. Last season marked a very inconsistent and injury-prone season for Croatian star Luka Modric. Yet it gave the young Spaniard the opportunity to take control of the Real midfield, which he took full advantage of.
Real have undoubtedly one of the strongest attacking line-ups in world football with the likes of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo rivalling other forward lines globally.
However, what typically distinguishes them from the rest is their versatility and the way in which each individual player’s strengths mould into one as well as complement each other.
Benitez’s men must be wary not only of rivals Barca but also of the teams which will break onto the scene this upcoming season i.e: Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao- whom won the Spanish Supercup against the Catalans.
League Prediction: First