Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo are playing well together, but the defence is conceding too many goals.
Of course, it's exciting to watch them win 3-2 at Levante with two goals in and beyond the final minute of the game, but it's not enough on which to build a successful campaign—in La Liga or the Champions League.
When a team aiming for the summit of world football has kept just three clean sheets over the first 16 games of the season, there should be alarm bells ringing somewhere in Carlo Ancelotti's head.
The Fast and The Furious. What a name for the partnership of Bale and Ronaldo.— IbrahimManaafMohamed (@Manaaaf) November 6, 2013
This could be attributed to the changes in personnel—Ancelotti has changed his side for every single game—but there are basic errors in Real's defending that mark it out as more than just a lack of playing time.
Five penalties have been conceded this season—all in the last three games—which immediately illustrates a lack of discipline in the tackle.
Of course, this has been countered with penalties of their own—Real have been awarded five this year—but Ancelotti has to address the inherent problems with his defence.
Sergio Ramos and Pepe are both wonderful players, but the forward movement of Marcelo has meant that they are often panicked into poor challenges while out of position.
Real Madrid: All attack, no defence http://t.co/ENRqhiQp7L— aadhithyavarman (@Aadithyavarman) November 9, 2013
This was remedied slightly when Real played Juventus, as Marcelo's attacking instincts were curbed in an effort to keep a solid defensive shape.
However, this had a knock-on effect on the midfield, as the link-up play sometimes disappears and leaves the defence isolated and vulnerable to attack down the wing.
As Bleacher Report's Dan Talintyre remarked in his excellent film breakdown, "the space that Ancelotti was hoping for his counterattacks to take off from started to emerge behind Caceres, but the manager's plan didn't factor in how isolated he would leave his wide men."
Real madrid work on your defence!3pk's in 2games ??ba!that's poor!— Criminal mind! (@Joshogrin) November 5, 2013
This is part of the problem for Ancelotti. His side is geared towards scoring goals from the defence up. After the conservatism of Jose Mourinho, this is great to watch.
However, if he tries to stifle that and keep his defence as more of a static back four, it's difficult for the team to function as a unit.
Can Real Madrid win La Liga or the Champions League through attack alone?
In that game against Juventus, Ancelotti rectified this in the second half and allowed both Ramos and Marcelo to roam forward again. This conceded another goal but also led to two for Real, allowing them to get something from the game.
This is the trade-off that must be addressed. Bale and Ronaldo are becoming a partnership that can unlock any team in the world, and The Daily Mail quoted Ramos as declaring them "almost impossible to defend against."
However, Rayo Vallecano and Levante are not so difficult to keep at bay, and both teams put two past Ancelotti's side this year. His defence remains a distinct work in progress, despite the dominance in attack.
He will need the complete article in the New Year—only then will Real have a chance of meeting their fans' lofty expectations.