Madrid season player review
AS rates each Real Madrid player's season after the side secured an 11th European Cup at the expense of Atlético in Milan.
Keylor Navas: Madrid’s saviour at the start of the season and one of the side’s bedrocks as the campaign wore on. Navas was installed as first choice on the rebound after the David de Gea debacle and played his way into the history books as one of the finest Real keepers of all time, conceding 35 goals in 46 games.
Kiko Casilla: Casilla hardly a sniff of the sticks after Navas’ promotion, playing just seven games all season. However, he proved that he is a reliable back-up to the Costa Rican.
Sergio Ramos: A mixed season from the captain. His shoulder problems affected him during the first half of the season but he was able to play to his highest level in the big games, as in Milan.
Raphael Varane: Injuries to the Real back line handed the France international opportunities to impress, which he didn’t always take. His own injury issues have hampered his development. A little stagnated over the last two season, Varane has been ruled out of the Euros precisely due to his ongoing injury struggles.
Dani Carvajal: Carvajal was theoretically going to play second fiddle to Danilo but earned his place in the starting 11 ahead of the Brazilian on merit. One of the best right backs in Europe, Carvajal earned his place in the Spain squad for the Euros.
Danilo: From the star signing to a disappointment. He didn’t lend anything more in attack than was already available and his defensive deficiencies have condemned him to the bench. His teammates say he is fantastic in training but the credit in his account for a year of adaptation to the league has expired.
Pepe: A life raft, a reliable centre half when backs are against the wall in spite of his frequent excesses. When injury free, he is still among the 20 best defenders in the world.
Nacho: A reliable back-up in the Real defence, he will remember with pride the goal he scored to beat PSG in the Champions League. Real’s injury problems gave him a fair amount of pitch time, but not enough to force his way into Vicente del Bosque’s plans.
Álvaro Arbeloa: The veteran defender will be honourably discharged this summer after a season of inactivity, during which he played just over 500 minutes. However, he has been a leader in dressing room and the fans love him, but he couldn’t compete with Carvajal and Danilo.
James Rodríguez: The Colombian lost his way in his second season at the Bernabéu with persistent question marks over his fitness. The process began under Rafa Benítez and was exacerbated under Zidane, who used James in matches of little import to hand a rest to key players. He is an 80-million-euro player who sat on the bench in the Champions League final. His future will be one of the stories of the summer.
Toni Kroos: The German reached the end of the season exhausted, and had been on the wane since December. Madrid have no replacement for Kroos and the amount of minutes he has played caught up with him. That said, he was one of Real’s best players in Milan.
Luka Modric: The star, the brains of a side whose play always passes through Modric. The Croatia midfielder is the creative source, the organiser and an extra man in defence. This season he again showed he is one of the most complete midfielders in the world. When Modric is off key, so are Madrid.
Isco: Up and down. Isco mixed moments of brilliance with games where he had no influence or an excessive one. He lost his place under Benítez and at least was an habitual sub under Zidane. As with James, Isco’s future will be on the table this summer.
Mateo Kovacic: A Benítez petition, the Croatian was one of the least used players this season but he is only 22 and Madrid need midfielders like him, committed in defence to sustain a side top-heavy in attack.
Casemiro: The revelation of the season, although he was first used by Benítez as the counter-balance to the BBC. Zidane placed his faith in him and the Brazilian rewarded that trust. He gives the side balance even if he is not the most aesthetic player on the pitch.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Not as brilliant a season as others, although this being Ronaldo that means “only” scoring 51 goals in 49 games. He has struggled to maintain his fitness towards the end of the season and played in some of the most important games at less than 100 percent. Still, he remains the side’s most important player. That’s why he hit the decisive penalty in Milan.
Gareth Bale: Arguably Bale has been the best performing component of the BBC this season. He started out in the centre and on his return to the wing he has been one of Real’s most dangerous attacking outlets. Every injury has obliged him to start from scratch but he has been a lot more involved in Real’s attacking play than 19 goals and 15 assists suggest.
Karim Benzema: Benzema’s personal problems have overshadowed the striker’s second-most prolific season with Real, in which he hit 28 goals. Benítez challenged him at the start of the season to reach 20-25. Even so, he missed out on the Euros due to his legal issues and started the season in much better form than he ended it.
Jesé Rodríguez: A go-to sub for Zidane, although he started only a few games and racked up around 1,200 minutes in total. Six goals and eight assists wasn’t a bad return, but he has too much competition in front of him.
Lucas Vázquez: Alongside Casemiro the other revelation of the season. Arriving from Espanyol last summer, Vázquez has become the first choice back-up for any absent member of the BBC, able to shake up a game and a luxury to have off the bench. Made the cut for Del Bosque’s Euros squad.
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