Manuel Pellegrini's Real Madrid Head into 2010 and Season's Second Half

Khalid KhanCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2009

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 29:  Coach Manuel Pellegrini of Real Madrid looks dejected during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won the match 1-0.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

In La Liga, Real Madrid is well-placed in the second place with 35 points from 15 games and only two points behind leaders Barcelona and will resume their title chase against Osasuna in Pamplona on Jan. 3. If they build on their current form and get a bit of luck then they can overtake Barcelona, before halfway marks is reached in the La Liga, as point difference is small.

In Champions League, knockout matchup against Lyon will be competitive, but with all the talent at Real’s roster, better things ought to be expected.

Despite improvement in form there is one thing that would weigh heavily on future of campaigns in Span and Europe and that is of injury of center back Pepe.

Pepe’s injury against Valencia caused grave concern initially but there were never any obvious signs of panic or name of prospective players mentioned by the club hierarchy, as a replacement target, even when Madrid’s media started to speculate and names were thrown around.

Number of possible scenarios for defense line were put forward and discussed like moving Sergio Ramos to the center, Arbeloa to the right and sign a left back or brining in a cantera product. Names of Branislav Ivanovic, Ricardo Carvalho, Jonny Evans, Carlos Cuéllar, Bruno Alves, Cristián Zapata, and Nicolas Otamendi continue to be seen in the media.

However, situation is now apparently looking to ease out, and at least for now, Ezequiel Garay it seems will be confided in to take the position of Pepe in his absence. It was also going to be difficult to sign a big center back in January transfer windows and especially one who won’t be able to play in Champions League.

But come next summer, Real Madrid may be expected to sign a new center back as Christoph Metzelder looks very likely to leave. If Royston Drenthe also leaves, or a more perhaps if offense-minded left back in place of Álvaro Arbeloa would be wanted by the club, then a left back will also have to be acquired.

Garay recently went on record to say that, "If the club does not make a signing that would be a very big vote of confidence for me.”

Main worry in the defensive midfield is going to be back-up for Lassana Diarra when Mahamadou Diarra leaves to play for with Mali in African Nations Cup. Offensive part of the midfield is okay with Rafael van der Vaart, putting in fine performances in place of injured Kaká and bolstering his case to be a first team starter when he returns.

Guti in all probability will leave next summer thus further strengthening van der Vaart’s position (if he does not leave) at least on a rotation basis with Kaká (who no one expects to be benched because of his star power).

If reports are to be believed then Karim Benzema, who is only just starting to find his feet, is wanted by Manchester United and Jonny Evans may also be offered in a cash plus player deal. Ruud van Nistelrooy is also expected to leave the club to find playing time elsewhere and secure his place in next year’s FIFA World Cup.

In addition to that Raúl is also warming the bench regularly under Pellegrini and if it continues that way then he might opt out to make a last stand in MLS as he desires. Therefore in January or next summer, we can see another striker coming to Madrid depending on some variables of course.

As the season nears its midway point, Real Madrid’s Galactico II side is starting to get its act together under the stewardship of Manuel Pellegrini and is showing promising signs of what may be expected of them in the foreseeable future.

Many had written Manuel Pellegrini off even before he began coaching Real Madrid. They were apprehensions, based on history, that President Florentino Pérez will ditch him if team didn’t perform from the outset or as soon as things would start to go bad.

Well, neither has happened though Real Madrid has seen their ups and downs this season already. Club has best start in 17 seasons and on the flip has lost to lowly Segunda División B2 side Alcorcón in the Copa del Rey and then a 2-3 home loss to AC Milan at Estadio Santiano Bernabéu. In first El Clásico against Barcelona and then in Valencia it showed how much team has improved as a team since season started.

Rafael Benitez recently talked on Real Madrid Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport that "champions" will get better with time and "in March they could be unbeatable." This compliment goes to show how much promise and potential Real Madrid has and how much improvement been made in the performance of the team.