Graphic: Why Rafa Benitez should select this Real Madrid XI versus Betis

Bernabeu Inside

Real Madrid host Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Real Madrid’s first home game of the 2015/16 La Liga campaign sees them take on an ever-improving Real Betis side who won promotion from the Segunda Division last season.

Rafa Benitez’s first official game in charge of Madrid ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw, a game which saw his side have plenty of possession but no real cutting edge upfront.

There is the dilemma in Madrid of how to get the best out of Gareth Bale, but equally important is how Benitez goes about fitting in Isco and James Rodriguez without hindering their natural game.

Back five:

With Pepe still nursing a slight fitness problem, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos are the obvious candidates at centre-back with the latter pretty much irreplaceable.

Marcelo ought to retain his place at left-back with Fabio Coentrao absent through injury, though Dani Carvajal should come in for Danilo at right-back if only to freshen things up a little bit.

Danilo will most likely be Benitez’s first-choice throughout the season, but Carvajal is a very capable back-up and he deserves a fair share of game-time especially against La Liga’s so-called weaker sides.

Midfield two:

Mateo Kovacic came on and did well at Sporting Gijon last weekend, but for the visit of Betis the hosts should stick with the tried and tested duo of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

Kroos, a German World Cup winner, is rather suspect on the defensive side against the better teams but he is very much the club’s only realistic option for that specific holding role at present.

Attacking quartet:

Karim Benzema returned to training ahead of this weekend following his injury layoff, but it is perhaps one game too soon for the French star and Benitez has options elsewhere.

Cristiano Ronaldo has all the attributes to play in a centre-forward role and he should be considered there for this Saturday in order to allow James Rodriguez to return to the XI.

The Colombian international was harshly left out for the draw at Gijon, but playing him through the middle will allow Bale to push to his preferred wide left role and Isco to come in on the right.

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