Real Madrid: 4 Things Fans Want to See from Jose Mourinho in the Next 2 Weeks
A scrappy Deportivo side looking to get back on track, the reigning Dutch champions and their eternal rivals, Barcelona. All in the span of eight days.
For many teams, that schedule has the potential to make or break at least one title chase. Yet that is exactly what awaits Real Madrid.
Los Merengues have been in very poor form to start the season, but these next three weeks provide them the perfect opportunity to re-establish their place as the team to beat in Spain.
In order to do that, Jose Mourinho will need to get the most from his squad, much more than he has gotten to this point.
There are a handful of players that he will need to be especially careful with in the coming weeks to help them get over some early struggles.
What follows are four changes the Portuguese boss needs to make to get through the next two weeks unscathed.
Better Play from Ozil
At the close of last season, many Madridistas were ready to crown Mezut Ozil as the best midfielder in at least Spain.
"He is already better than Iniesta, now he's targeting Xavi," some said.
A disappointing outing at the Euros and a poor start to the new season later and those calls have been exposed as, at least, very short-sighted.
Has Ozil Hit Bottom?
We are only eight matches into Real Madrid's new season, but so far the German international is having his worst start since joining La Liga.
Madrid's No.10 just can't get going. His passing has declined, especially on the ground. His touch has been poor, his discipline lacking.
He has looked lost more often than he has looked like a leader this season and has failed to really impose himself against any opponent.
Stats Never Lie
Perhaps the most worrying part of his game so far are the numbers. Not scoring a single goal is slightly concerning, but it's nothing to lose sleep over.
However, last year's European leader in assists has yet to notch a single assist in the league this season, and that is worrying.
His lone aid came on a corner kick in the Spanish Supercopa when Cristiano Ronaldo took advantage of some poor marking from Barcelona.
I fully expect Ozil to rebound and finish with a largely incredible campaign, but the longer it takes for the German to get to top form, the longer Real will be, at best, the third-best team in Spain.
Better Use of Kaka
Those readers who took part in the poll on that piece apparently agreed, as 50 percent of voters said the Brazilian should start ahead of Ozil and Modric in Madrid.
Unfortunately, he did not start and, in fact, once again failed to see the pitch. There is just no reason for Mourinho not to play him at this point.
Kaka was awarded Man of the Match honors in a friendly win over Los Millonarios on Wednesday, but that will not be enough to satisfy or silence fans who have been calling for the former World Player of the Year to play.
Now, I may not be as articulate as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but when a club breaks the world record and spends €68.5 million on a player, they better play him.
The 30-year-old is healthy and, perhaps most importantly, has been the best player on the field in every friendly he's played in over the last few months—and it is only friendlies that he has been part of so far.
Kaka has earned at least a chance to prove that he still has a place at this club. With Ozil having a terrible start and Modric not playing extremely spectacular football so far, there is no need for Kaka to waste away on the bench.
Rest for Ronaldo
While Ronaldo hasn't by any means been poor over the last month of play, he hasn't been his usual self, either.
Aside from a tireless effort against Manchester City that saw him score the dramatic late winner, CR7 hasn't really had many great games this season.
He took advantage of a hapless Granada side for a pair of goals, but he needs to start showing up more consistently.
The Portuguese superstar has yet to string two great performances together and it may be time to try something else.
Chance for Rest
Madrid's upcoming schedule is by no means easy, but there is definitely an opportunity to give the former Ballon d'Or winner some rest.
Being eight points behind Barcelona in La Liga means Ronaldo should play every match in the coming months, because getting three points is so important, but there will still be chances for him to sit without it costing the team.
Real's next league match comes against a Deportivo team that has been anemic on offense and will struggle to get points from the champs.
If Los Merengues get an early lead, Mourinho should consider taking his star forward out and resting him for a big Champions League match against Ajax.
Last season showed how important Ronaldo is to his team, and having him well-rested could prove key to Madrid's title hopes.
More of Karim Benzema
Gonzalo Higuain entered this season with most Madridistas strongly on his side.
After a summer filled with transfer rumors linking him away from the club, the striker pleased fans when he was convinced to stay in the Spanish capital after being told he would get more starts.
So far, the Argentinian has failed to keep fans happy. The increasingly strong play from Karim Benzema only makes it harder for the South American to be Mourinho's first choice.
Scoring three goals in five matches is far from bad results, but Higuain should really be leading the Pichichi race right now.
With 3.6 shots averaged per game, the striker has had plenty of chances to score and has missed the vast majority of them.
While it is impressive that he is even getting into position to score, some of the misses have been real sitters that should have gone in.
If Real Just Wanted a Poacher, They Would Have Signed Chicharito
Knowing how well Real's attack works—with Ronaldo shifting in and out of a more central role—more tactical diversity and awareness is needed from the striker.
As great as Pipita is with link-up play and finishing, he doesn't give enough width or options to the attack.
Benzema, on the other hand, understands perfectly how to cede the main role to Ronaldo. He also knows how to best utilize space out wide, unlike Higuain.
The Frenchman can take defenders on by himself, feeds CR7 in the middle and can create more chances for his teammates to score.
At this point, with Benzema playing better every match and Higuain going the other direction, it is clear that last year's first-choice striker should get more time in the coming weeks.
Please leave your comments below. Also check out my latest piece analyzing Barcelona's three biggest needs right now.
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