Sami Khedira’s serious knee injury, picked up on international duty, was a big blow to Real Madrid and how Carlo Ancelotti sets up his side.
The German midfielder was a key member of the Real Madrid midfield and in the early weeks of the campaign made up a three in the middle of the park with the likes of Luka Modric and Asier Illarramendi.
Ancelotti’s midfield dilemmas this season were constrained due to injury to Xabi Alonso and were highlighted when the Italian started Sergio Ramos in the centre of the park at the Nou Camp in the El Clasico defeat to Barcelona.
Since Khedira’s injury, Ancelotti has played 4-2-3-1 instead of 4-3-3 and this has seen a major difference to both personnel selected and the style of Real Madrid’s play.
Crucially, Isco has been in the middle of the “3” and the young Spaniard has excelled producing fine performances against Almeria and Galatasaray.
Perhaps not the very best opposition in Europe, but Isco’s great foot work and brilliant eye for a final ball could well see him hold on to this spot.
Against Almeria, it was Alonso and Illarramendi in front of the defence which is a midfield partnership of guile and supremely accurate passing.
Versus Gala, Casemiro came in to the starting line-up but was replaced by Alonso on the hour.
The big loser in all of this could be Luka Modric who did not feature at Almeria and was suspended last night. The Croatian was in fine form and you imagine Ancelotti will use him plenty as the season progresses.
Below is a tactical analysis video of Real Madrid’s 4-2-3-1 formation at Almeria, by Spanish pundit Axel Torres, with English subtitles.