Ranking Real Madrid's Top 5 Players for November 2015
We know what you're thinking: Real Madrid actually had five good players in November?
Indeed, the most recently completed month was an extremely difficult one for Real Madrid, and noteworthy performances were few in number.
After beginning November with a very fortunate victory over Paris Saint-Germain at the Santiago Bernabeu, Los Blancos slumped to consecutive defeats to Sevilla and Barcelona—the latter exposing an array of issues currently affecting Madrid.
Following that Clasico mauling, Rafa Benitez's side recovered somewhat with consecutive wins over Shakhtar Donetsk and Eibar, but neither were overly convincing, with doubts and questions still lingering in the Spanish capital.
However, as we've done in previous months this season, we've ranked Real Madrid's top five players based on their performances in November.
Note: It was hard. We weren't exactly spoilt for choice.
Given the sum of talent that exists at Real Madrid, the simple fact that Nacho makes it onto this list says almost everything about the sort of month the club had in November.
Indeed, though handily versatile, Nacho is little more than a competent back-up at the Bernabeu, but in November, he was forced into a more prominent role due to injuries to team-mates.
Against Paris Saint-Germain, he replaced Marcelo in the first half before scoring the game's only goal in bizarre circumstances. Next up against Sevilla, he was unlucky not to make it two goals in two games when he smashed a shot into the woodwork, and although his team collapsed after that, his left-hand side wasn't the source of Real Madrid's problems—the right was.
More recently, the 25-year-old partnered Pepe in the centre of the defence against Shakhtar Donetsk and Eibar. In neither game was his performance outstanding, but the fact he occupied two positions in November without major fault sees him make it onto this list.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
"He's played every minute," said Marca's J. L. Calderon midway through November, "but more in body than in spirit." And for much of the month, it felt quite a bit that way.
Enduring one of the tougher spells of his career at present, Cristiano Ronaldo was largely ineffective in November. Against Paris Saint-Germain, he had little impact in a curious team performance; against Sevilla, he bordered on anonymous; against Barcelona, he appeared only in brief moments; against Eibar, he missed two opportunities you'd expect him to take.
Only in the 4-3 win over Shakhtar Donetsk was Ronaldo a dominant figure when he was directly involved in all four goals, scoring and assisting two apiece.
But in a lean month of individual performances at Real Madrid, that night on its own is enough to get him in the top five.
Like all of his team-mates, Casemiro has had far better months than the one he had in November, but he finds himself here at No. 3 anyway because of a lack of competitors.
Admittedly, he was at fault for two of the goals as Shakhtar Donetsk threatened to stage an incredible late comeback, but before that, he'd been solid against the Ukrainians. In the games against Paris Saint-Germain and Eibar, the Brazilian had been an important figure at the base of the midfield with his rugged tackling and ball-winning.
What also helps Casemiro here is that Real Madrid's Clasico hammering without him helped to highlight how important he's become.
2. Gareth Bale
Somewhat lost amid the constant drama that has surrounded Real Madrid of late has been the fact that Gareth Bale has quietly returned to some degree of form in recent weeks.
In his return from injury against Sevilla, the Welshman was influential in Madrid's early dominance, even though he faded quickly thereafter, and encouraging performances against Shakhtar Donetsk and Eibar followed.
Against the Ukrainian outfit, Bale was excellent when playing a largely left-sided role—the role many believe he should be playing permanently—providing both the assists for Cristiano Ronaldo's goals. Then, four days later in the Basque Country, his first-half goal was critical in a hard-fought contest against Eibar.
He hasn't exactly been vintage, admittedly, but who has?
1. Luka Modric
Luka Modric, really?
It's a selection that, on first glance, doesn't seem at all right; so far this season, the Croatian's influence has been well below that of last. But when you look around Madrid's squad for November, there are few other candidates.
And Modric has been steady if not excellent.
Against Paris Saint-Germain, Modric was Madrid's most prominent midfielder on a difficult night for the team. Ditto for the trip to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star also scored against Shakhtar Donetsk in his best performance of the month, and against Eibar, he provided the assist for Gareth Bale's crucial goal while being his team's best player on the day.