As preseason moves on, there is uncertainty surrounding which formation will be used next season by Manuel Pellegrini. The arrival of several galacticos also presents a big pain because they will have to be adjusted in the starting XI and with that comes much speculation about possible formation.
It is apparent that, to a large extent, midfield will dictate formation decisions where the likes of Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso will play, and to a lesser extent, frontline where Raul may have to be adjusted alongside Karim Benzema.
This is the preferred position of Pellegrini and most likely to be used with his usual mid-game variations.
In this formation Alonso will be playing as a deep-lying playmaker with another defensive midfielder beside him for defensive support. This will edge Kaka on the left of the field instead of a central offensive role and may force Robben out of the team or relegated to being substitute winger.
Kaka as a left winger can be used to cut in from the left to right of the field to create scoring opportunities for the strikers.
If Kaka is played as a second striker, then Robben can play on the left flank, and this 4-4-2 configuration could be fluid as Kaka can move back in “the hole” to make it 4-4-1-1 or further back in the center midfield as well effectively changing the formation to 4-5-1.
Alonso can also be played alone with Kaka in the center midfield and wingers on the flanks but there will be a risk of him being marked out of the game thus completely disrupting the game-plan.
Karim Benzema and Raul may be the strikers. Higuain and Ruud van Nistelrooy can be the substitutes.
Wingbacks will have to be used to support offense on the flanks by forcing the opposition defense to play wide. Alonso will be alone in the back of the midfield with Ronaldo and Robben in the middle and Kaka can play as offensive midfielder or even “in the hole.”
It’s a very narrow formation. Real just do not have better wingback on the left to go for that option as Arbeloa is not strong on offense and Marcelo is weak on defense.
That will suit both Alonso and Kaka in deep-lying and advanced playmaker roles respectively.
All lone striker formations require a physically strong and tall striker to receive balls and battle opposite defense as fellow teammates will catch up.
Again Alonso can be with a defensive midfielder in the back with one of the Diarras, Ronaldo on the right, Kaka in the middle and Robben/Higuain/Sneijder on the left. Karim Benzema maybe the lone striker but that will create a problem with so many strikers in the squad.
Wingbacks will be needed to support offense.
Here Kaka will have to play in the center midfield with Alonso, one of the Diarras, and Ronaldo plus Robben/Higuain on the flanks. Alonso will be the playmaker. This defensive formation does have the flexibility to be converted to 4-3-3 to launch offense.
4-5-1 actually to get draws or defend leads but might also be workable against big teams that would look to play an offensive game thereby exposing their defense which will make it possible to play a lone striker who has to be a real performer and finisher.
But against heavily fortified, deeply-entrenched defense of smaller teams, 4-4-2 with two strikers upfront would be required.
A slight variation of 4-4-2, Pellegrini plays with this position during a game so Kaka/Raul can play as second striker ahead of midfield.
Again a variation of 4-4-2, Alonso can be placed alone behind three offensive midfielders who will also have to bear some defensive duties to protect him from getting marked.
All in all, playing all the megastars in their preferred positions would be a tricky proposition if placed first before the performance of the team as a unit. In any case, Real Madrid will not field two playmakers as it will create problems in defense and such a move inherently stifles each playmaker’s natural game.
There are just so many formational possibilities or tinkering with Kaka, Alonso, whether to play a second defensive midfielder and with strikers.
Coach Pellegrini has a really tough job on his hands placing all these players in the first team while keeping the formation flexible enough to allow him to change tactics (and player positions) on the go.