Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Iker Casillas:
Our captain has been his usual reliable self. So far this season, he has conceded 28 goals and kept 25 clean sheets in all competitions. He has made some questionable decisions like his rash tackle on Jose Callejon that resulted in his sending off against Espanyol, but he has also managed some remarkable saves that helped us maintain leads and win games.
- Sergio Ramos:
Not the Sergio Ramos we have gotten used to in recent years. After coming back from the World Cup as one of Spain’s best performers, much was expected from him. To be honest, I've been disappointed in some of his performances this season. His attacking isn't as effective as it used to be, and his sense of positioning is awry following a foray forward. Gets booked for needless reckless challenges (14 yellows and 2 reds so far) & was dropped by Mourinho a few times this season. He’s been much more impressive in the games he played as a CB in. He has scored 2 goals (a penalty and a header) and is starting to look a lot better in his past few games. Let’s hope we get to see the real Ramos soon.
A rock at the back, has contributed immensely to Real Madrid’s improved defensive record. Pepe distinguishes himself from his counterparts by his embodiment of both speed and physical prowess and there is no doubt he is one of the best center backs in the world, and this is why Perez should give him the pay raise he deserves. He has even scored a goal against Real Sociedad (deflected Cristiano’s free kick into the net). Although he has had some issues with injuries and a few forgettable and aggressive games, Pepe is in good form this season and hopefully will not let the contract talks affect his performances.
- Ricardo Carvalho:
Carvalho is in the form of his life. Although he’s 32, he can competently shore up the center defense. He’s powerful in the air, physical, combative & has superb technique. Reinforced the defense, significantly strengthened the squad and has displayed brilliant leadership skills on the pitch. He has scored 3 goals so far (including our first of the season) and is rated by many as our best summer signing. Those €8 million spent on him were nothing.
I always wanted Real Madrid to get rid of Marcelo but only tolerated his series of poor performances because of his age and because I hoped he would develop into someone useful for this team. This time has finally come. After an average 2009/10 season, Marcelo is having his breakout season. His tackling has drastically improved and so has his sense of positioning, but of course, he still has a lot to work on. He is paying back Mourinho’s confidence in him with defensive steel (not quite steel, but you get the point…) and terrific attacking runs.
He has scored 3 brilliant goals and assisted another 5 so far. With hard work and consistency, Marcelo will develop into the best left back in the world in a few years (he already is the best attacking fullback in the world, just needs to work on his defensive blunders).
Rating: 7.5 Overall. (Defense: 6, Attack: 8)
- Alvaro Arbeloa:
Arbeloa’s performances this season have impressed Mourinho. As usual, pretty solid defensively but doesn't venture forward much. He scored a great goal against Ajax in the Champions League. This is what Mourinho had to say about him: "Arbeloa is the type of player that may not impress people because he is not Maradona or Zidane or another player, but when he's played he's never a 6. He is always between 7 and 9." This perfectly sums up Arbeloa as a player.
- Xabi Alonso:
The architect. He’s been a leader on the pitch. His long range passes have been second to none (he completed 58 out of his 62 attempted passes against Lyon). He sprays the ball in all directions, orchestrating the tempo of the game. He protects the back four, assists and constantly delivers dangerous set pieces. He is the fulcrum of this team. I can only think of one bad game he had this season, and that’s the one against his former team, Real Sociedad. Xabi is an indispensable player on this team.
- Sami Khedira:
Khedira was one of our summer signings. We got him for about €10 million from Stuttgart. He was said to be a good midfielder that has great stamina, a good range of passing and impressive technique on the ball. A cross between the defensive and box-to-box midfielders, he’s playing the role of the ballast in Mourinho’s system, his role is to prevent the formation from getting top heavy and ensure that the front four do not become isolated from the back six. He has great stamina.
He’s dealing well with the responsibility of shackling opposition playmakers and tracking runs from deep in order the shield the center backs from being overrun. So far, he’s been doing a decent job, nothing extraordinary; he’s still young and has a lot of time to develop into a great player. He had a great game against Atleti yesterday. I think we’ll see an improved Sami next season after he’s fully integrated with the team.
- Lassana "Lass" Diarra:
"I want to demonstrate that I can play in this team. Last year, I did not play at my best. I feel like a Madrid player and I know that with him [Mourinho] I have to fight everyday in training, because any player has his chance and that is something to take advantage of.'' This is what Lass had to say at the beginning of the season. I think he’s been doing well this season. He needs to work on his consistency though. He’s had some pretty good games. His bite in the tackle & limitless stamina make him tough for opponents, but he still makes some uncalled-for tackles in dangerous areas, which could end up hurting the team.
- Esteban Granero:
On the pitch, El Pirata has been level-headed and a calming influence. He is working hard for the team. He comes in to train with Castilla when the team is given days off and his intelligence and passion are well-known. In the few games he’s played this season, his passing has been sublime (he completed 50 out of the 55 he attempted against Hercules in about 70 minutes and 15/15 against Lyon), and his ball retention abilities wonderful. His work rate has been admirable and it should be noticed by anyone watching him play.
He scored the equalizer against Almeria and got us a point after coming on late in the second half. He also scored an astonishing goal against Murcia in CdR. El Pirata definitely deserves more playing time and will hopefully get some after his solid performances against Hercules and Racing.
- Mesut Ozil:
Ozil's €15million move to Madrid saw the club make the best signing in years. Ozil has walked off the pitch to standing ovations from the fans at the Bernabeu several times this season- a testament to his wonderful skills as a player. He manages to find his teammates on the pitch without effort, and his style and flair with the ball can be breathtaking. His control is exceptional and his creative passes can unlock any defense.
He was dealing with some fitness problems and inconsistency at the beginning of the season (couldn't manage to play a full game and faded after 70 minutes), but he has definitely improved. He has scored 10 goals, assisted 16, and created countless other scoring opportunities so far. His style of play resembles Zizou’s, and with time, Ozil can turn into a player as great as his idol.
- Ricardo Kaka:
After coming back from a serious injury, Kaka has failed to impress Mourinho and the fans. Madrid faithful are getting frustrated with his performances. I think Kaka's problem is that not only has he gone off the boil slightly, but it's hard to shine in team full of stars, especially when people like Cristiano are scoring goals for fun and others like Ozil are playing brilliantly.
Kaka is still a quality player, no one can doubt that. He just needs to find form again, if he'll find that at Real Madrid is another question. Would it be better to move to another club to get consistent football and become a key player in the side? I don't know, it could work for him though, and since we have 2 of the brightest young talents in world football in his position (Ozil and Canales), I think Real Madrid should cut their losses short and ship him off. This will also increase Sarabia’s chances of making it to the first team.
- Angel Di Maria:
Ángel was brought in from Benfica in the summer for €25 million. Lots of clubs where interested in him, but we managed to sign him. He was so highly regarded that when Simao, a talismanic Benfica captain, left the club, it was claimed that Di Maria was perfect replacement. A very skillful winger, with great dribbling skills, Di Maria has been dazzling us with his tremendous skill and pace. His work rate is fantastic – he has no problems tracking back and recovering lost balls. All he needs to do is stop diving and improve his decision-making. He sometimes lacks concentration and dwells on the ball for too long, which should improve as he gains more experience. He has scored 8 goals and assisted 18 in all competitions this season. He will be a major player in our future team.
- Cristiano Ronaldo:
A revolutionary player, a super professional, a machine. He has ambition, physicality and efficiency. His irrepressible energy, predatory instincts, passion for the game and faith in himself are the qualities that make him one of the best footballers on the planet. Shooting ability, passing accuracy, vision, pace, aerial prowess, set-play wizardry; he possesses it all.
He started out slow this season, failing to score in his first few league games, but regained top form against Deportivo where he scored a brace, and has been fantastic ever since. He has been terrorizing defenses all over Europe. He has scored 37 goals (38 according to Marca), assisted 13 (could have been a lot more if Benz wasn’t missing those easy chances at the start of the season), and is the top scorer of the team.
Even his attitude has changed this season: he has been calm, playing with a smile on his face most of the time, hasn’t been whining about referee calls not going his way, and has reduced his diving. He seems to love playing under compatriot Mourinho. He got injured after scoring a hattrick against Malaga and aggregated this injury in the derby yesterday and will be back in mid-April. Hopefully, when he comes back, we will see a fully fit Ronaldo firing on all cylinders.
- Gonzalo "Pipita" Higuain:
Before his injury, Pipita was having another great season. He scored Real Madrid’s 700th Champions League goal and had 10 goals and 3 assists in 18 games. He had cemented the poacher spot in Mourinho’s starting XI ahead of Benzema, and mastered his role: He drifts to the wings to create space for Cristiano and di Maria to drive through the middle, can hold the ball up to bring teammates into play, plays on the shoulder of the last man, which stretches the opposition defense, freeing space for the midfield to squeeze forward, and has great awareness in the box. His injury is supposed to keep him out of the field for 4 months, but his goal is to return in time for the CdR Clasico final.
- Emanuel Adebayor:
The signing of Adebayor saw Mourinho get the striker he had been wanting after Pipita’s injury (not his first choice though). Adebayor said that he already feels settled at Real Madrid. His first goal came against Sevilla in the CdR and his first league goal came in a 4-1 victory over Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu. He also scored against Racing. He’s been a decent 2nd choice striker. Real have the option to buy at the end of the season, but this relies on Adebayor’s performances which haven’t looked that sharp so far.
- Karim Benzema:
It was speculated that Benzema’s lack of form as well as poor performances were unimpressive to Mourinho and that the he could well be on his way out of Madrid in this summer’s transfer window. After Pipita’s injury, Benzema had the chance to prove he’s worthy of the White shirt, but he failed. I think he realized that he was the only real option for Mourinho since he was the only striker left on the team, and felt the pressure of having to perform week-in-week-out. The pressure of scoring goals seemed to have been thrusted upon him. His pace seemed diminished, he looked lost on the pitch, had an awful first touch, and was shorn of all the accuracy that had made him one of the most potent forwards in Europe. His confidence was shattered. One can’t help but wonder what Mourinho had to say to him after the arrival of Adebayor. He turned from zero to hero.
He has been in top form these past few weeks, netting a pivotal goal against Lyon (only 40 seconds after coming in for Adebayor in the second half), braces against Malaga, Racing Santander and Hercules, another one against Lyon in the second leg, and 1 against Atletico yesterday, taking his total tally to 21 in all competitions this season making him the team’s second top scorer.
Benzema says all this is thanks to Mourinho, but Mourinho thinks that "the main person responsible for the change is Karim himself” and says that "Zizou has worked psychologically with him several times.” If Benzema can keep this sudden gain of form going and continue to contribute with goals and assists, then he could make the summer search for a striker completely reduced to paper-talk.
Rating: 7 (Only because of his inconsistent performances in the first half of the season.)