The Real Madrid Formation

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 23: Carlo Ancelotti, coach of Real Madrid looks on during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match between Real Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 23, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.
Paul Gilham / Getty Images

Coach Carlo Ancelotti typically favors the 4-2-3-1 for his Real Madrid formation.

With Real regularly competing on three fronts during a season, Ancelotti, like the coaches at Europe’s other major clubs, must alternate his team so that players avoid fatigue and do not become unhappy on the bench if not regular first choices.

In goal Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez fight it out for the number one spot, with Casillas having lost his guarantee of a regular start under Jose Mourinho in the 2012-13 season.

4: Defense

In defense, Alvaro Arbeloa generally features at right-back, although Sergio Ramos has plenty of experience playing in that position with club and country. He enjoys the attacking responsibilities that come with playing on the right and can regularly be seen bombing up the wing. Daniel Carvajal is another option.

Bruising Portuguese defender Pepe regularly takes up one of the center-back slots, alongside either Ramos, Raphaël Varane or Nacho.

The left-back slot is typically occupied by Marcelo or Fabio Coentrao. Both the Brazilian and Portuguese love to get forward and support the attack, and are able to play on the left of midfield if necessary.

2: Defensive Midfield

Two from Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, and Sami Khedira will usually occupy the two spots in front of the back four. In Alonso and Modric, Real boast two of the best passers in world soccer, while Khedira provides the defensive steal. It is his job to break up opposition attacks and distribute the ball to Real Madrid’s more creative players. Young Brazilian midfielder Casemiro acts as back-up.

3: Attacking Midfield

Ahead of these players, there is the central playmaker, who is given the freedom to create. Isco has taken over the central role behind the striker now that Mesut Ozil and Kaka have moved on.

Cristiano Ronaldo will typically feature on the left of this attacking midfield trio. His pace and skill make him one of the best soccer players in the world. The former Manchester United star likes to cut inside on his favored right foot and fire in shots on goal. On the other side, Gareth Bale will usually feature, having joined the club for a world record fee in 2013.

Argentina winger Angel Di Maria provides competition, and he is another tricky customer, brought in by Mourinho in 2010.

1: Attack

In the center of attack Karim Benzema is the first choice, and with Gonzalo Higuain having departed, youth product Alvaro Morata provides the backup.