Right-back: Dani Carvajal
He faced tough competition last season from Danilo, who was evidently favoured by the club management on account of being one of the club’s marquee signings of the summer.
While the Brazilian has his own merits in terms of pure pace and crossing ability in the final third, Carvajal is a more robust fullback who takes foremost care of his defensive duties despite hardly being the retreating kind in attack (as Arbeloa once used to be).
Carvajal is among the most well-rounded fullbacks in the world, and it would be foolhardy for Zidane not to make use of his talents in high volume. If at all he needed a reminder of the academy product’s talents, he got one in the UEFA Super Cup Final, in which Carvajal left a number of bodies in his wake before finishing past Rico in Sevilla’s goal with one of the greatest goals in European finals.
Centre-back: Sergio Ramos
Captain Fantastic served football fans a look at both sides of his game in the Super Cup final, as he conceded the penalty that allowed Sevilla to take the lead after around the 70-minute mark. He then turned up at the right place in right time during stoppage time to score Real’s second and force extra time.
He has begun this season in good nick, and apart from the needless challenge that gave Sevilla the penalty, took care of business in typical fashion. Although he needs to curb his adventurous streak a little, he still looks the part as Real’s leader from the back. Athe age of 30, he has a couple of years more at the top level.
The Brazilian-born journeyman, who initially joined Porto before finally moving to Real Madrid in 2007, has proved himself to be one of the best investments for the club in recent memory.
Even at the age of 33, when footballers start losing a yard or two of pace, he looked completely up to the challenge in the Euros this summer as he became Portugal’s pillar at the back, playing a pivotal role in their toughest games against Croatia and France and keeping their strikers goalless.
Varane’s drop in form gave Pepe a way back into the team in the middle of last season, and ever since, he has not allowed Varane any leeway by the way of defensive errors and card trouble. In fact, Pepe has learned to largely curb his instincts and very rarely does he get carded in the average Liga or Cup game.
One has to be a brave man to leave out this man. For a number of years now, Marcelo has been the most consistently brilliant left-back of the world. Marcelo was always a wonderfully innovative and technically skilled dribbler and an asset in the attack in general.
But he has matured into a potent machine patrolling Real’s left flank at all times, helping out the defence with acrobatic clearances and masterful interventions to break up opposition attacks.
While his main competitor, Fabio Coentrao, is making a comeback to the club this season, he does not look close to his best and should present little threat to incumbent Marcelo.Published 11 Aug 2016, 22:35 IST