Picking Real Madrid's Quickest and Strongest XI According to FIFA 18 Ratings

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2017

(L-R) Real Madrid's forward from Wales Gareth Bale, Real Madrid's midfielder from Croatia Luka Modric, Real Madrid's defender from Spain Dani Carvajal, Real Madrid's defender from France Raphael Varane, Real Madrid's goalkeeper from Costa Rica Keylor Navas, Real Madrid's midfielder from Brazil Casemiro, Real Madrid's midfielder from Germany Toni Kroos, Real Madrid's midfielder from Spain Isco, Real Madrid's defender from Spain Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid's defender from Brazil Marcelo and Real Madrid's forward from Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo line up before the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Real Betis  at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS        (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
GABRIEL BOUYS/Getty Images

FIFA 18 is set for release later this week, and the popular console game will see fans once again take control of their favourite sides, complete with summer signings, and try to emulate or better the success they achieve on the field.

For Real Madrid supporters, that means a mixed bag; it won't be easy to replicate winning the amount of silverware that Zinedine Zidane's team do, but controlling the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale tends to make things somewhat more straightforward.

One of the best options on FIFA, though, is to change up the team where each individual feels it's needed. Are you unhappy with the regular or on-pitch midfield lineup? Swap them around where the manager won't. Do you prefer the alternate goalkeeper? Now's his big chance to impress.

Gaming can sometimes mirror the real world, but sometimes certain attributes are more highly favoured—speed and strength being two of them that dovetail nicely between grass and glass, but which more console managers favour to side with than dugout bosses might have to stick to.

With that in mind, who would make Real's XI if it were based on their rapidity and power alone?

          

Need for Speed

Judging by the players' top sprint speed, we've selected the fastest Real Madrid side available that fit into a viable formation on FIFA and with players in primary roles—so no shoe-horning Marcelo into central midfield, or playing three at the back with two wingers and two centre-forwards somehow.

Formation: 4-3-3 (4) Attack

GK: Keylor Navas (sprint speed:53)

RB: Dani Carvajal (86)

CB: Raphael Varane (81)

CB: Nacho Fernandez (80)

LB: Theo Hernandez (85)

CM: Mateo Kovacic (77)

CM: Luka Modric (71)

CAM: Marco Asensio (77)

RW: Gareth Bale (95)

LW: Cristiano Ronaldo (91)

ST: Karim Benzema (78)

There are a few noticeable differences to Zidane's regular lineup immediately.

Firstly, it's worthwhile pointing out that while faces change, the 4-3-3 system that the boss has favoured for the majority of his time in charge remains in place.

Zidane has utilised more of a diamond midfield over the last six or seven months, but before Isco's resurgence, 4-3-3 reigned supreme.

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 20:  Sergio Ramos, #4 of Real Madrid during the La Liga match between Real Madrid v Real Betis at Santiago Bernabeu on September 20, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images)
Sonia Canada/Getty Images

Sergio Ramos misses out, level on speed with Jesus Vallejo but behind his two defensive team-mates Nacho and Varane. Ramos, a 77 rating, is level with two midfield picks—but positionally, he can't fit into the side. Even playing with three centre-backs would necessitate the use of wing-backs, which Carvajal and Theo are not listed as.

While the BBC attack remains intact and in place—something the actual Real Madrid side hasn't been able to say too often in 2017/18—the midfield looks somewhat alien.

Kovacic represents an exciting talent who (along with Dani Ceballos and Asensio) could lead Los Blancos' centre of the park for years to come, but right now he's still somewhere between a squad player and battling to show Zidane just how good he is on a regular basis.

He could play every week for Madrid, there's no question of that on a technical level, and has performed well whenever given the chance, but it's tough to break in ahead of Casemiro and Toni Kroos.

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 17:  Marco Asensio of Real Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between Real Sociedad de Futbol and Real Madrid at Estadio Anoeta on September 17, 2017 in San Sebastian, Spain .  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Modric, Kroos, Isco and Casemiro are all in Zidane's regular XI, but only Modric makes it here.

Between them, they bring balance to midfield, a range of attributes, and their technical level is beyond reproach. But pace? It isn't in their skill sets.

Casemiro perhaps shows good recovery speed at times, but it's not the blistering acceleration that others in the Madrid side can boast, especially in the front line.

Modric gets into our XI only on account of being positionally perfect for the system; his 73 rating isn't high and is bettered by Zidane's favourite impact sub, Lucas Vazquez, but being a right-winger, he doesn't fit into a viable formation.

Our other change in midfield is to invert the triangle; whereas Zidane has one holding and two pushed on, we have a double pivot with Asensio the attacking option.

    

Power play

Now the same but with strength as the main identifier, with the same positional and formational rules applied.

Formation: 4-3-3 (2) Hold

GK: Kiko Casilla (strength rating: 79)

RB: Carvajal (75)

CB: Ramos (81)

CB: Varane (85)

LB: Theo (78)

DM: Casemiro (85)

CM: Kroos (74)

CM: Kovacic (65)

RW: Bale (80)

LW: Ronaldo (80)

ST: Benzema (78)

A slight change of system is the end result of switching to power over pace, with Zidane's preferred version of 4-3-3 returning, but there are a number of personnel alterations, too.

For starters, Kiko Casilla takes his place in goal ahead of Navas. The Spanish stopper is rarely used by Zidane save for those matches which are irrelevant or where almost the entire team is changed, and he doesn't have the class or consistency of his Costa Rican team-mate.

There are no new faces in defence, just Nacho missing out, but it's worth talking about the left-back pick: Theo Hernandez over Marcelo.

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 09: Theo Bernard Francois Hernandez Pi of Real Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Levante UD at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on 09 September 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty I
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Brazilian full-back Marcelo has been a mainstay in the Madrid side for years, is one of the best in the world and has a unique blend of aggression, leadership and creative brilliance to his game. He's a clear first-choice, but the problem for Madrid has been his tendency to pick up injuries every season—and having nobody in place to provide cover.

Danilo didn't do so well on the left in his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, while the less said about Fabio Coentrao's last few years, the better. Now Theo has arrived from rivals Atletico Madrid, and he's a perfect addition.

While he doesn't have tremendous experience—just last season on loan at Alaves in the top flight—he's clearly good enough to play in La Liga regularly right now. On the other hand, that same inexperience means he cannot complain about being behind Marcelo for the time being but is safe in the knowledge that he'll get plenty of minutes and eventually become first-choice.

Theo is indeed strong, quick and direct in his play—as evidenced by him being in both these XIs—and Real will find a new dimension to their play once he has settled into the side.

In central midfield, Kroos and Kovacic have performed well together when called upon for Zidane, while Casemiro—the joint-strongest-rated player in Real's squad, with Varane—earns a recall thanks to his positional attributes: he's a defensive midfielder, which replaces Asensio in the attacking-midfield role of the "speed" team.

Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric shoots the ball during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS        (Photo credit sho
GABRIEL BOUYS/Getty Images

Modric also misses out this time. The Croatian has most attributes in his game any manager could want from a central playmaker, but he isn't tremendously physical. Aggressive in his play, yes, absolutely. His will to win and determination are impressive—but he isn't a big frame, isn't a speedy one-on-one player, rather relying on clever movement and speed of thought to evade opponents rather than brute force or surging pace.

Along with Modric, Isco is the notable absentee from our XIs, another who is more noted for technique and creativity rather than physicality.

Again the front three are present and correct—and it attests to their well-rounded game that pace, power and goals are guaranteed from Ronaldo and Co.

Zidane probably wouldn't have too many complaints were he forced to go with either side, other than a lack of midfield control, but the five-man back line still isn't likely to be on show at the Bernabeu any time soon—unless it's the on-screen version where players can favour speed over all else to come up with a big result.

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