Real Madrid: Players Who Should Be in the Starting Lineup
As Ronaldo's shot fired past Vincent Kompany and confused Joe Hart just enough to delay him from making the save, Madridistas everywhere held their breath.
When the ball crossed the line, fans screamed in excitement and breathed a sigh of relief that went well beyond this one match.
Real Madrid's 3-2 victory over the reigning English champions was about so much more than getting a good start in Group D of the Champions League.
In some ways, it was seen as the beginning of a desperate turn-around for a club that has really struggled in the first month of this season.
As inspirational as that win was, there are still some persistent concerns for the team. There are a couple of players who are still performing at a level that frustrates most fans, namely Mezut Ozil and Gonzalo Higuain.
I have no doubt that these players will soon get over their early season struggles and get back to full strength, but a rest against Rayo Vallecano could be in order to help get their mind and body right.
Here are two players who deserve a start in La Liga as the men on top keeping them on the bench have not been playing at such a high level to keep them from starting.
Who should start in attacking midfield against Rayo Vallecano?
First of all, can anyone say why he hasn't started already? Mezut Ozil is having his worst season since joining the league.
While I fully expect Ozil to get back on track soon, why not give him another game's rest and play their former world record signing, instead?
So far, the first alternative to the German No.10 has been Luka Modric. While the Croatian is undoubtedly a very talented player, he does not have the attacking quality of the former World Player of the Year.
Kaka is now fully fit and had a fabulous preseason. In preparation for this season, the Brazilian showed the spectacular touch, vision, passing and technique that use to label him the best player in football.
Now despite the struggles of Ozil, he has still not seen the pitch. If Jose Mourinho is still adamant about playing Modric, put him in a deeper role alongside Sami Khedira or Xabi Alonso.
The former Tottenham star can play in that deeper role while Kaka cannot. While that versatility is a great reason to field the Croatian, he still does not have the attacking abilities of Kaka.
It would be unfair to say that Higuain is playing poorly right now. Four goals in five total matches is solid output no matter how you look at it.
But in the last two matches, the Argentinian has managed zero goals despite having eight shots and countless chances to score.
He has been wasteful, lacked discipline and failed to put his teammates in great position.
Now I do not think Benzema deserves to take over as the first-choice striker. I think the mental effect of doing so could do more harm than good. At least one of the two strikers needs to feel the comfort of knowing they are the preferred player.
But the Frenchman did score in his last match against Man City and has been much more influential than Pipita. It is clear that he works better with Cristiano Ronaldo and Ozil as well.
Who should start against Rayo?
With a weaker opponent on tap for Sunday, and with Ozil able to benefit for a bit more rest, why not give the 30-year-old Kaka a chance to prove his value to the club? At least give him one start in the next three fixtures.
Why not also try and see what Benzema can do with a start. Maybe he is what Ronaldo & Co. need to get their offense back on track.
Rayo Vallecano are reeling from allowing four goals to Atletico Madrid, and Los Merengues are on the mend, but still needing some momentum as they near October and El Clasico.
This would be the perfect opportunity for Jose Mourinho to take a chance on two players who deserve the chance to show their quality in La Liga.
If not against Rayo, giving these two the nod next week so that Higuain and Ozil get rested for the next Champions League match could go a long way.
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