With Real regularly competing on three fronts during a season, Mourinho, 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 is the undisputed number one and has been the club’s first-choice since he was a teenager.
4: DefenseIn defense, Alvaro Arbeloa generally features at right-back. although Serio 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.
Bruising Portuguese defender Pepe is a favorite of Mourinho and regularly takes up one of the center-back slots, alongside either Ramos, Raphaël Varane or Raul Albiol.
The left-back slot is typically occupied by Fabio Coentrao or Marcelo. Both the Portuguese and Brazilian love to get forward and support the attack, and are able to play on the left of midfield if necessary.
2: Defensive MidfieldMourinho likes the insurance policy of two deep lying midfielders in his Real Madrid formation. Xabi Alonso is one of the first names on the team sheet, and fits well in Real’s 4-2-3-1 formation, just as he did under Mourinho’s nemesis Rafael Benitez at Liverpool. His range of passing is exquisite as is that of the major signing of 2012 - Luka Modric from Tottenham Hotspur.
Germany’s Sami Khedira and France’s Lassana Diarra are more defensive options. It is their job to break up opposition attacks and distribute the ball to Real Madrid’s more creative players.
3: Attacking MidfieldAhead of these players, there is the central playmaker, who is given the freedom to create. Mesut Ozil, the outstanding Germany midfielder, or Brazil legend Kaka are favored by Mourinho for this position. Both are supreme dribblers and excellent passers of the ball.
Cristiano Ronaldo will typically feature on the left of this attacking midfield trio. His pace and skill makes 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, Argentina winger Angel Di Maria generally starts, and he is another tricky customer, much admired by Mourinho, and one of the Portuguese’s first signings in 2010. Jose Maria Callejon acts as back-up on the wing.