Real face testing season at home and in Europe

The dust may still be settling at the Santiago Bernabeu following Jose Mourinho's turbulent reign at Real Madrid, but a new era is already dawning at the most successful club in European football.

Real officially kick off the new season recently with Carlo Ancelotti taking the reins and we can be sure about one thing: there will be less acrimony with the experienced Italian manager in the dugout.

That is one of the few certainties surrounding Real right now because there are many questions which hang over the squad as the players get back to work.

Will Cristiano Ronaldo sign a new contract? Is Kaka staying? What can this side actually win this season?

Let's begin with Ronaldo's future. In my view it would be a terrible mistake for him to leave Madrid any time soon.

He is the heart and soul of Real and has an opportunity to become part of the club's history.

The Portuguese star is already in sixth place on the list of Real's all-time top scorers, having hit the back of the net 201 times in 199 games.

If he continues to score goals at this rate, he could challenge Raul's record of 323 goals for the club in a few years.

Another reason for Ronaldo to stay is that since Mourinho has gone, a lot of negative energy will have disappeared from the Bernabeu.

This new era could be a positive one for Ronaldo as he will not pay for having the same nationality as his controversial manager. He will be able to shine without getting involved in the crossfire between the media and Mourinho.

As far as Kaka is concerned, it's time for him to go. Hampered by injuries and inconsistent form, he has never been able to settle in Madrid since making a US$91 million move from AC Milan four years ago.

Even though he has a great relationship with Ancelotti from the time they spent together in Italy, it's hard to see him getting much playing time since he will be competing for a place with Mesut Ozil, Luka Modric and new signing Isco.

There is little point in hanging around if Kaka wants to play.

He should take a pay cut and guarantee some minutes somewhere else, giving himself a chance of fighting his way back into the Brazilian squad with the World Cup on home soil next year.

So what expectations should we have for Real next season?

Ancelotti is a winner and will surely make sure the team challenges for titles, but it's hard to see Los Merengues winning anything next year.

Domestically, Barcelona are still too good, especially with the addition of Neymar and there is no way Real will find a new identity in a few months and be able to compete with their Catalan rivals.

In Europe, it's also hard to see them having much success.

There are too many good teams out there right now and Real still don't have a superstar striker they can count on to score big goals in big games.

Ronaldo cannot continue to carry this team on his shoulders at home and abroad without help from another consistent scorer.

Under Mourinho, they made the semi-finals of the Champions League three years in a row. They won't do any better in the upcoming campaign.

So, there is no doubt we can expect a more harmonious year at the Bernabeu without tension around Iker Casillas or any other major star, but don't expect any silverware.

Even a manager as accomplished as Ancelotti will need time to create a winning team in Madrid.

Pedro Pinto is a CNN sports anchor based in London. For more go to

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Writer: Pedro Pinto