Real Madrid: Five Possible Formations to Utilize Nuri Sahin
Although Sahin was unable to make his debut for Real Madrid against Real Sociedad, his desire to play means that his debut is very close, especially since he has now been in training for multiple weeks.
Sahin will likely be slowly worked back into shape, playing at least a couple games as a substitute, but it is expected by many that he will become a major player for Real Madrid once he regains match fitness, given how impressive he was for Borussia Dortmund last season.
With that in mind, here are five possible ways for Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho to utilize the Turkish playmaker.
1: 4-2-3-1 with Xabi Alonso
The advantage of such a formation would be that Real Madrid would be quite a handful offensively. Nuri Sahin was an excellent deep-lying playmaker for Borussia Dortmund last season and would be playing in the exact same position he excelled in last season.
Meanwhile, Xabi Alonso would continue spraying the ball around to Real Madrid's offensive outlets, and Ozil would create goalscoring opportunities for Real Madrid.
If Kaka were selected ahead of Ozil, then more of the play-making duties would fall upon Sahin, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Angel Di Maria, all of whom are capable of racking up assists in bunches.
The downside is that neither Nuri Sahin nor Xabi Alonso are really "defensive midfielders." They can tackle to an extent, since they are "holding midfielders," but they are not as defensively skilled as someone like Sergio Busquets, Nigel De Jong, Javier Mascherano, Yaya Toure or Alex Song.
Playing both of them together could seriously hurt Real Madrid against the stronger teams of Europe.
2: 4-2-3-1 with Sami Khedira
In this formation, Nuri Sahin would play alongside Sami Khedira in the "defensive midfielder" positions, behind either Kaka or Mesut Ozil.
The advantage of this formation is that unlike the previous formation, playing Sami Khedira alongside Nuri Sahin does give Real Madrid a solid defensive midfielder alongside a great deep-lying playmaker.
Khedira is also capable of making decent short passes, so Xabi Alonso's passing game wouldn't be completely missed.
The downside of course is that Xabi Alonso's passing game is miles better than Sami Khedira's. Real Madrid have become so accustomed to playing with Xabi Alonso supplying the team's passes from deep, and its unknown if Nuri Sahin will be able to supply those same passes as well as Alonso did.
Another important point is that the play of Sami Khedira is this formation is vital to its success. Sami Khedira has had multiple "off games" for Real Madrid recently, where his tackling was not sufficiently accurate—and his passing leaves much to be desired.
For a formation like this to work, Sami Khedira needs to improve both his tackling and passing and be on top of his game.
Real Madrid haven't played a 4-3-3 in quite a while, but it would definitely be an option to consider with Nuri Sahin fit.
Ideally, Nuri Sahin and Xabi Alonso would occupy the two more forward center midfield positions, while a defensive midfielder (Sami Khedira, Lassana Diarra, or even Pepe) would occupy the defensive midfield positions. Mesut Ozil could also be used instead of Alonso.
This formation would be an excellent one for Real Madrid to utilize against Barcelona. It would place control of the offense almost completely in the hands of Sahin and Alonso, the latter of whom has expressed great excitement at the prospect of playing alongside the former.
It would also give the defensive midfielder the obligation of breaking up play to feed the ball back to Sahin and Xabi Alonso, to create play once more and link up with the wingers, who would like be Angel Di Maria or Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Of the current defensive midfielders at Real Madrid, the only one who is really capable of performing the duties required of the defensive midfielder in this formation is Pepe.
However, since the Clasico Champions League matches against Barcelona last year, Jose Mourinho has been extremely reluctant to give Pepe the freedom to roam the midfield, and has preferred to keep him in defense, where has been solid as well.
This formation has the potential to be a successful one, but it would require Mourinho to make some very bold moves and decisions.
Unfortunately, Wikipedia's 4-4-2 image is saved in some unknown file format that B/R can not recognize. So this 4-4-1 will just have to do; just pretend that the "hole" forward is just another center forward.
The likelihood of Jose Mourinho playing a 4-4-2 with the players at his disposal is around one-in-a-million, but for conversation's sake, and on the hope that he does decide to mess with things one day to see how his team would perform, let's look at how Madrid would lineup in a 4-4-2 with Nuri Sahin.
In a 4-4-2 with Nuri Sahin, Mourinho would likely play Mesut Ozil, as center midfield isn't where someone like Kaka really flourishes. Xabi Alonso is also a possibility in place of either player.
There isn't much reason why a 4-4-2 would not work; Sahin is a balanced player who knows when to push forward and when to hang back, and would be able to cover for Ozil. Alonso would allow Sahin to play more offensively, as he is already used to being the midfielder who hangs back.
Mourinho just hasn't used the 4-4-2 very often in his career, as it is generally a very "English" formation; most of the world's top non-English managers don't use it. But there isn't too much of a reason why it would not work.
5: 4-2-3-1 with Nuri Sahin Coming on as a Substitute
This will likely be Real Madrid's go-to formation while Nuri Sahin builds up match fitness.
Real Madrid will likely start with Xabi Alonso and a defensive midfielder, then sub in Nuri Sahin for either the defensive midfielder if Madrid are losing, or Xabi Alonso if Madrid are winning.
There is definitely much experimentation to be done on Nuri Sahin's impact on Real Madrid's offense, so Jose Mourinho will likely use Nuri Sahin's first few substitute appearances to do this experimenting.
What do you think? Which formation will Jose Mourinho most use with Nuri Sahin? Do you expect Jose Mourinho to stick with a single formation when Nuri Sahin is involved, or to mix it up? Are there any other formations you think Jose Mourinho might use, or formations that you'd like to see used?
Share your opinion and provide your input in the comments section below.