Why Dani Carvajal Is Real Madrid's Best Right-Back Option

Rik Sharma@@riksharma_Featured ColumnistDecember 24, 2015

Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal, right, scores his side 3rd goal during the Champions League Group A soccer match between FC Shakhtar and Real Madrid at Arena Lviv stadium in Lviv, Western Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press

The battle for the right-back slot in Real Madrid's defence is between two players: Danilo and Dani Carvajal.

A third, Alvaro Arbeloa, is on the scene, but the veteran defender is only selected when absolutely necessary, due to injuries or suspensions to the two actual contenders.

So far, it seems Danilo is manager Rafa Benitez's first choice, although that may change as the season progresses.

Whenever they have both been fit and available, the coach has opted for the Brazilian.

However, that could be because he arrived for a huge €30 million fee, while Carvajal has spent most of his career to date at Madrid.

When you buy a player for that much money, there is always going to be pressure to play him and help him thrive, but Danilo has not been overly impressive so far.

Francisco Seco/Associated Press

It may happen that the pressure to succeed at Madrid outweighs the pressure to use Danilo.

The Brazilian had his best game so far for Madrid against Rayo Vallecano, in Madrid's 10-2 win.

He scored his second goal for the club and set up another one for Gareth Bale, finally looking the part in a Madrid shirt.

The cross for the Welshman was excellent, whipped in from the right and landing straight on the gleeful forward’s head.

Danilo had scored previously against Celta Vigo, but overall his attacking impact has not been particularly impressive.

Lalo R. Villar/Associated Press

That is where Madrid want him to make his mark, with Carvajal safe and sound defensively, but sometimes lacking going forward.

Carvajal did, however, get an assist for Madrid against Atletico in the derby, setting up Karim Benzema, but he suffered an injury and Danilo took his place.

He also scored a brilliant goal against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League, curling home wonderfully.

Danilo feels he is doing a good job overall, telling former club Porto's TV channel (h/t Goal.com): "I feel better than I expected. I've adapted very well and I've always played when I've been able to."

Of course, Danilo must be allowed time to continue his adaptation to life in La Liga.

EIBAR, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 29: Daniel Carvajal of Real Madrid controls the ball during the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Real Madrid at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on November 29, 2015 in Eibar, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

However, Madrid urgently need to win something this season, whether it be the domestic championship or the Champions League.

After Barcelona won the treble last season and their own humiliation in being disqualified from the Copa del Rey, the Santiago Bernabeu needs something to celebrate.

And Carvajal has not put a foot wrong for Madrid over the past year or so, when given the nod.

He excelled in performances against Malaga, Malmo and Espanyol, games in which Real Madrid did not concede.

Carvajal only played 31 minutes of the Clasico shambles against Barcelona, coming on from the bench after Danilo was given a thorough seeing-to by his compatriot Neymar.

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 21:  Danilo of Real Madrid duels for the ball with Neymar of Barcelona during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on November 21, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Ser
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

He has not featured in December thanks to injury, while Danilo has played four times, in the wins over Getafe, Malmo and Rayo, as well as the 1-0 defeat away at Villarreal.

If, when Carvajal is fit, Benitez continues to pick Danilo over him, it would not be a surprise if he decided to leave Madrid in the summer.

The Spaniard needs game time to stake his claim for a place in Vicente del Bosque’s Euro 2016 Spain squad and will be hoping to force his way into the coach’s plans after he makes his comeback.

Defensively adroit and useful, albeit not spectacular going forward, Carvajal is the stronger option for Real Madrid at right-back at the moment.

But while his fitness continues to hold him back, Danilo is getting more chances to play himself into the form needed to start for Los Blancos on a regular basis.