They might have not won anything last season as a team, but individually, they rack up among the best in the world. These are the top 5 players who stood out for Real Madrid in 2013.
5. Mesut Ozil –
He may not be a Real Madrid player anymore, but to ignore all he has done for them till September will be no less than debauchery. Ozil joined Jose Mourinho’s Galacticos in 2010 after playing an amazing World Cup in South Africa. His quick feet, amazing vision and ability to score prompted his national team coach Joachim Low to call him Germany’s Messi.
For three seasons in a row, he has been topping the assist charts for Real Madrid. 2012/13 season saw him assisting 29 goals for the Spanish giants. “Technically perfect”, as Ruud Gullit called him, Ozil was among Jose Mourinho’s favourite players and no wonder one of his most played.
Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival and team selection seemed to unsettle the German international. Luka Modric and Isco Alcaron were getting the nods ahead of him more often than not. The deadline day of the transfer window saw him move to Premier League side Arsenal, who paid £42.5 million for his services.
After a few good games, his form took a hit as his performances faltered. But despite the poor form, he still leads the Premier League assist charts, which says a lot about his ability.
4. Luka Modric –
He doesn’t really stand tall in theory, but his footballing prowess does enough to make up for it. Luka Modric started his career at Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. His 5 year stay at his parent club came to an end when Tottenham Hotspur came lurking to sign the midfielder.
His time at the White Hart Lane saw him rise to stardom, as he established himself as one of the best attacking midfielders in the game. With top clubs taking notice, it was Real Madrid who secured Croatian’s signatures in 2012. His first season turned out to be a disappointment, but a player of his caliber was never going to stay quiet for long.
2013 saw Luka Modric rise to his potential. His accurate passing, swift movements and very lethal long-range shots caught many eyeballs. He made a name for himself very soon by distinguishing himself as a player who made most passes for Real Madrid since March 2013. His goal against Manchester United in the Round of 16 helped the Galacticos secure qualification.
This season, he has been a regular starter for Carlo Ancelotti’s men. He has been playing in a deeper centre-defensive role, but his versatility saw him excel there as well. His timely interceptions and pin-point passes made him an instant hit. Not to forget his long range goals. All five of his goals for the Whites have been scored from outside the box.
3. Raphael Varane –
He’s one of the best defenders in the world and he’s only 20, yes twenty. Raphael Varane was a revelation for Real Madrid in the 2012/13 season. Despite his tender age, his performances saw even the greatest of attacking players; deflated. It would be fair to say, he had Lionel Messi in his pocket for quite some time.
Varane started his senior career with French club Lens. His obvious talent alerted the top clubs, but once again, it was Real Madrid who came out on top to sign the French international in 2011. His impact, despite being a teenager, was immediate. He caught the eyes of many top players, including Rio Ferdinand who tweeted about his rare but flawless technique of tackling.
The following season he was seen accomplished enough to replace the likes of Pepe and Sergio Ramos. He made headlines by scoring on his El Clasico debut against Barcelona. His defensive composure, reading of the game and waiting on tackles made him stand-out straightaway.
His performances against Manchester United and Galatasaray in the Champions League made him a regular starter at the age of 19. Few years down the road, he will top this list. Mark the words.
2. Diego Lopez –
When Iker Casillas sustained a hand injury in January 2013, nobody would’ve thought he’d be benched forever thereafter. Oh wait, nobody but Diego Lopez.
Sevilla signed Diego Lopez in the summer of 2013. In his time at Villarreal, he was regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. So when Real Madrid approached him, 6 months after he signed a 5-year contract with Sevilla, it did not surprise many. His second spell at the Bernabeu started off very well. With Casillas out for 12 weeks, Lopez had complete backing of his manager.
His performances were amazing, but he reserved his best for the greatest occasion. Against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie, he showed exactly why he was so highly rated. Such was his impact on the game that Jose Mourinho went on to call Lopez the ‘best player in the team’.
He quite simply didn’t let any Madrista feel the absence of their captain and when the latter returned from his prolonged injury, there was no way back for the World Cup winning captain. Carlo Ancelotti also called him his number one and gave him the responsibility to start all league games.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo –
What else did you expect? Cristiano Ronaldo is not only Real Madrid’s best player, but as it stands, he is by far the best player in the world. Be it this list or any other list in the world, the Portuguese captain has to be on top of it. It’s like one of those obsessions of his, he loves being the best.
2013 saw Ronaldo lambaste every record there was to break. He has scored 69 goals this calendar year, which quite astonishingly is 2 more than the sum of fellow Ballon d’Or nominees Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery’s figures. Although it’s worth noting that Messi spent most of his time recovering from his injuries.
He was Champions League’s leading goal-scorer last season by bagging 8 in the 2012/13 campaign. This season he is already past that figure, as he has scored 9 goals in the group stage itself. Another record. His best, though, came out against Sweden in the World Cup qualifier when he single-handedly carried Portugal to the World Cup finals by scoring a sensational hat-trick in the second leg of the tie.
Ronaldo’s fans have been desperately hoping for him to win the Ballon d’Or for a long time. This year, his chances are very bright. The only hurdle could be his tussle with FIFA president Sepp Blatter who insultingly mimicked the forward in an interview.
But then, no hurdle is too big for the ‘commando’, is it?