Over the last four years, Real Madrid‘s forward trident of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo has been one of the most effective attacks in world football. However, the forward trio, nicknamed ‘BBC’, might not have long left.
At 32, Ronaldo may well be on the decline. His statistics seem to reflect this notion, with the Portuguese averaging fewer goals, assists, completed dribbles and key passes per game this season compared to last.
Meanwhile, Benzema has hit the back of the net a mere seven times in La Liga this term, an indication that, at 29, the Frenchman may also have peaked.
Bale is, at 27, the youngest of the trio, but the Welsh icon hasn’t quite maintained the consistently high levels of performance many expected of him following his move to Madrid in 2013. While he is the most likely of the three to remain in Real’s attack in the longer term, he is not irreplaceable.
Here, Football Whispers considers what Real Madrid’s next attacking acronym might be.
AOL (SERGIO AGUERO, MESUT OZIL, ROBERT LEWANDOWKSI)
Sergio Aguero’s future with Manchester City is far from certain. He has been left on the substitutes’ bench at times while Pep Guardiola has experimented with a false nine or with new signing Gabriel Jesus up front and, at the age of 28, the Argentine hitman may fancy a move away.
Real Madrid would no doubt be one of the many interested parties should Aguero leave the Etihad and the thought of partnering him up front with Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski is – while farfetched – extremely enticing. The Polish goal machine has been linked with the Spanish giants before and a duet with Aguero would likely produce a phenomenal amount of goals.
To facilitate their playing together, the return of Mesut Ozil would prove helpful. The playmaker has been out of form at Arsenal and is reported to be considering a move away. His creativity and awareness from the number ten position would supply Aguero and Lewandowski with plenty of scoring opportunities.
CIA (DIEGO COSTA, MAURO ICARDI, DELE ALLI)
A controversial acronym for a controversial attacking trident. Diego Costa, Mauro Icardi and Dele Alli may lack the grace, charisma and refined beauty of Real Madrid’s past greats but their effectiveness is unquestionable and the thought of them playing together – all three have been linked with Real – would give opposition defences nightmares.
Costa is renowned for his rugged approach to attacking and his willingness to rough up centre-backs while Icardi is as self-centred a poacher as there is.
Behind the Costa-Icardi strike pairing, Alli would provide aerial threat, firm, at-times reckless, tackling and a goal threat of his own.
DBS (PAULO DYBALA, KARIM BENZEMA, ALEXIS SANCHEZ)
As far as Lionel Messi lookalikes go, Paulo Dybala is right up there. Not only is the 23-year-old, known as ‘La Joya’, a smooth dribbler with a wand of a left foot, but with his socks partially rolled down, he possesses Messi’s childlike enthusiasm for the ball at his feet.
Dybala’s flitting movement, accurate passing and eye for the spectacular would fit in nicely alongside Benzema, whose intelligent runs could lead to some stunning interchanges of position.
Alongside them who better than Alexis Sanchez, whose future with Arsenal is uncertain, to bring energy to an otherwise nonchalant frontline?
With both glamour and cutting edge, this attacking trident would be worthy of the DBS acronym associated with the Aston Martin car as seen in the James Bond film Casino Royale.
HBO (EDEN HAZARD, ANDREA BELOTTI, OUSMANE DEMBELE)
Home Box Office have a reputation for high quality content filled with drama and stunning production. Thus, for an attacking trident to be worthy of the HBO acronym, it would ideally be made up of outstanding players combining style and substance.
Hazard is an obvious candidate to be Real Madrid’s next Galactico; he’s well-known, experienced, in his prime, and outrageously talented.
Dembele, meanwhile, is younger, but as a two-footed, explosive and an adept finisher. And, leading this particular line, Belotti brings the old-school intelligence, power and clinical touch of a true centre-forward.
KGB (HARRY KANE, ANTOINE GRIEZMANN, GARETH BALE)
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane didn’t take too kindly to being asked about his compatriot, Antoine Griezmann, ahead of a Copa del Rey clash with Celta Vigo in January.
“Griezmann? You think it’s time to talk about this? I can talk about my players if you want, or tomorrow’s game too. I only think about that,” the Frenchman said. “If you want to know if he’s a good player, obviously he’s a good player. Is that what you wanted to hear?”
Griezmann has covetous glances from across the continent thanks to his performances for Atletico Madrid over the last two years and a move to Atletico’s city rivals would be a momentous transfer. Alongside Bale, he would bring pace and skill to Zidane’s attack.
In front of them, should Real be looking to replace Benzema with a strategic option, Tottenham’s Harry Kane would be a sound choice. At 23 years old, the Englishman is establishing himself as one of the most efficient finishers in the world right now.
SAS (BERNARDO SILVA, PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG, RAHEEM STERLING)
The SAS acronym became a footballing ‘thing’ in the 1990s when Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer formed a formidable strike pairing that led Blackburn Rovers to their only Premier League title.
The pure speed of Sterling, who was rumoured to be interesting Real Madrid prior to his Manchester City move, and Aubameyang, who promised his grandfather he would one day play for the Spanish giants, would be hard to handle.
The pairing, alongside Silva’s finesse and quick feet, would flummox opposition defences with their dribbling, off-ball movement and acceleration.