After a season without Champions League success, Real Madrid reverted to type and underwent a major Galactico-style overhaul across the summer, making them a tantalising project on Football Manager 2020.
This is not a job for the faint-hearted mind you. The fanbase is excruciatingly demanding, the Madrid press will hunt you down like a pack of bloodthirsty hounds, and the president? Well, let’s just say he has a propensity to wield the axe if things aren’t going according to script.
Still fancy your chances? Well, in fairness you will be more than kitted out for the task at hand. Florentino Perez spent just shy of £300m in the summer so there is plenty to work with, plus Los Blancos already boast a former Ballon d’Or recipient and a number of World Cup winners, so you are well-stocked.
Your job will be to bring ol’ ‘Big Ears’ back to the Bernabeu and thwart Barcelona’s La Liga stranglehold. It will not be easy, but if you’re seriously considering taking charge of Real on your next FM20 save, then we have all you need to know about the Spanish giants below…
Okay first up, meet the boss: Florentino Perez. The famous Madridista has lifted over 20 trophies during his two stints as Real president, so don’t expect to stay in the dugout too long if further silverware is not added to the marbled halls of the Bernebeu.
His philosophy is not overly demanding, simply expecting you to play an attacking brand of football, sign high-reputation players – of course – and recruit with a long-term project in mind by bringing in players under 23.
As for the first season expectations. Well, this is where things get slightly more challenging. Your minimum requirements will be to reach the Champions League final and the Copa del Rey final. These two are par for the course, but your objectives also include a La Liga title and a Super Cup crown.
However, Perez is not expecting you to accomplish all this without sanctioning funds. Yes, Real have already spent eye-watering amounts in the summer, but we’re talking about Perez here, the man who signed Luis Figo one year, Zinedine Zidane the next, Ronaldo after that, and then David Beckham.
He will provide you a modest £51m transfer budget to allocate where you see fit, while a £5.6m p/w wage budget should suffice if you’re looking to bring in more Galacticos.
And of course, no job is ever complete without your backroom staff. You will have an eight-man team, including yourself, with Real legend Chendo as part of your coaching department and Zidane’s current assistant coach David Bettoni.
Oh, and the facilities in Madrid are in elite condition. The training and youth facilities are “superb”, while the academy coaching and youth recruitment are “excellent”.
Naturally there are many avenues you can explore here, such is the world class talent and depth at your disposal, but we recommend a 4-2-3-1 formation with a possession-heavy style of play.
With players like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in your squad, a controlled possessional style will certainly work wonders here, but of course, you can bring Casemiro into the equation to beef up the midfield, either as a box-to-box option or further back as a ball-winning midfielder.
Thibaut Courtois will take up the sweeper ‘keeper role between the sticks, while Marcelo and Alvaro Odriozola can operate as complete-wing backs, with the latter selected over Dani Carvajal because he is more suited to this specific role.
Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos will form a formidable defensive partnership, with the Frenchman a traditional centre-back and the Spaniard a more modern ball-playing defender. In front will be Kroos and Modric, with the duo habitually dictating the play, setting the tempo and recycling possession.
Further forward, Eden Hazard will replicate his inside forward role from his Chelsea days, Gareth Bale will take up an attacking-winger role, while Isco can look to unlock doors and pose a goalscoring threat in the No. 10 position.
Karim Benzema will continue his deep-lying forward role, as you look to work the ball into the box, play shorter passes and function with a much lower tempo. The idea here is to retain possession, be patient and have your forwards create openings.
Without the ball, though the intensity and urgency will increase as you look to regain possession and start over. The counterpress will be implemented, as too will a higher defensive line and closing down the opposition ‘keeper.
In layman’s terms you will keep it composed, patient and simple in possession, looking for the likes of Hazard and Isco to showcase individual brilliance, while out of possession you will play akin to Liverpool, looking to win the ball back with complete urgency.
Ramos may be 33, but he is still Real’s defensive talisman and integral to any/all of your plans. With exceptional defensive attributes, coupled with world class ball-playing skills, Ramos is the archetypal modern centre-back and will be the chief policeman in your defensive strategy.
With 20 dribbling, 20 agility and 18 technique, there are few who rival Hazard in the wide-man department. The Belgian hasn’t exploded onto the scene just yet in Madrid, though performances are certainly picking up, but he is a player brimming with upper tier quality and offers a devastating effect on the byline.
As mentioned you will be tasked with playing an attacking style of play, and that will likely involve possession football, so Kroos will be the key to that. The German metronome has a passing attribute of 20 so there is simply no-one better on the game at finding their man than the 2014 World Cup winner.
Best Youth Products
The 18-year-old is overflowing with attacking quality and can develop into one of the leading left-wingers on the game. Give the Brazilian game time, play him in the cups, allow Hazard to tutor him and reap the rewards in just a few year’s time.
Another who can develop into one of Football Manager 2020’s best wingers. The Brazilian oddly starts in Real Madrid B, but simply promote him to the first team and he will make an excellent understudy to Hazard as well as rivalling Rodrygo for a starting berth in your XI.
Well, well, well, how times change. The Norwegian was suppose to be the next big thing when he joined Real as a precocious 16-year-old, but then quickly became a ‘flop’, then somewhat ‘resurrected’ his nascent career during loan spells with Heerenveen and Vitesse, and is now seen as a future Real player. It’s a fickle world that of football, but you genuinely have one heck of a talent on your hands when Odegaard returns from Real Sociedad in your second season.
This would be a shrewd investment for two reasons: Modric is 34 so it may be time to start thinking about long-term replacements, and Aouar can operate as a competent No. 10, so could prove excellent competition for Isco. The Frenchman has excellent technical attributes so would have no problems acclimatising to Spanish football.
The Portugal international starts the game injured so this may be one to consider for January. But, remember Perez’s desire to sign only players under the age of 23? well Fernandes ticks the box and would bring a new element to your midfield. He is industrious, tenacious and technically superb, so definitely keep an eye out.
Dubbed the ‘new Andrea Pirlo’, Tonali would be an excellent like-for-like successor to Modric. Both have the same pint-sized frames, espouse a unique passing style, and retain possession superbly. The Italian won’t break the bank either, so you will have plenty of funds left over to distribute elsewhere.
No longer needed
With Benzema and now Luka Jovic on the books, Mariano is pretty much surplus to requirements, and at £25.5m you could turn a tidy little profit on him if the right club comes knocking.
Certainly a good squad option, but not at the calibre needed to start consistently on the flank for Real. Again, with a £17m value, it may be worth cashing in on the Spaniard and handing some young players a chance.
Nacho starts the game injured, and with Varane, Ramos and Eder Militao ahead of him in the centre-back pecking order, as well as Carvajal, Odriozola and again Militao ahead of him in the right-back pecking order, you’re better to sever ties and add to your transfer kitty.