Two weeks ago everything seemed clear and bright for Real Madrid and nothing pointed to the upcoming storm. Zidane’s team set a new record in Spanish football with not losing 40 games in a row. However, there’s no an easy way for reaching success, and this was proved again.
Real Madrid started not only to lose games and play awfully but also lost some important players in one of the most decisive and tough parts of the season. In just two weeks Real Madrid’s hospital room became packed as Dani Carvajal, Marcelo and Luka Modric picked up injuries during recent games. Adding to this Gareth Bale’s absence, a major headache rises for Zidane and the French coach has to solve a difficult puzzle and prove his coaching abilities. It’s easy to manage a team that is in form and is winning one game after another, but it’s completely different to manage a side which has major problems. It’s here when coach’s role becomes important.
Zidane has already proved himself as a coach who likes to use rotation. He usually changes playing schemes and uses all his players. There aren’t permanent substitutes in his team. Now Zizou has to find more than one solution and solve a problem with 4 variables. It’s not an easy job to do, but let’s see, how he can replace the missing players with some important games in the spotlight.
Right back issue
Dani Carvajal is not only the best right back at Real Madrid but also is one of the best players of that position in the world. The young Spaniard became a permanent member of the starting eleven both for Real Madrid and for Spain national team. However, the youth academy graduate has also picked up an injury and will have to sit out the upcoming fixtures.
Finding a replacement for Carvajal would create fewer problems for Zidane. He has Danilo who can play at that position. Despite the criticism and some unconvincing performances, Danilo is a player with abilities and he can finally get the recognition he is seeking. He can finally get rid of the pressure and show why Real Madrid paid 30 m euros in 2015.
Nevertheless, Zidane is not fully sure about Danilo as the Brazilian makes too many defensive mistakes and his positioning is something that needs to be improved a lot. On the other hand, he has Nacho who can cover the right flank, too. The Spanish defender played as a right-back against Malaga until the moment when Marcelo was forced to leave the pitch. Nacho’s work rate is an example to be followed by others.
Marcelo has picked up a thigh injury against Malaga and is ruled out for almost a month. The Brazilian is one of the best players of this team, he is a flying rocket on the field and not only defends well but also contributes to the attack. It would be hard to fully replace him, but some options are still available.
Nacho Fernandez can come to the rescue once again. The Spanish player can play in all positions in the defense, including the left flank. He has already played at that position for many times and in some cases, it turned out to be decisive. For example, he scored the only goal against PSG last year in Champions league group stage, playing as left-back. He has the highest chances of featuring for Real Madrid in coming weeks.
Fabio Coentrao is another man who can replace Marcelo. The Portuguese player has suffered many injuries in recent months and couldn’t return to the top level yet. However, in the absence of Marcelo, he can receive the necessary playing time. This is a chance that he may not have in future at Real Madrid. If Fabio performs well and shows the football he used to play some two-three years ago, Zidane can close this issue.
It’s highly impossible to see other players covering Marcelo’s place. Real Madrid Castilla can provide players and they have some options to offer, but Zidane will hardly rely on youngsters in important matches.
Finding a new maestro
This is the most complicated task for Zidane who himself was a maestro back in his playing career. He understands the importance of this kind of players and Modric was an ideal player in his arsenal. Now Luka is out for almost a month and to replace him, Zidane has to spend days and nights without sleeping. He has many players in midfield but neither of them is able to do the job that Modric has been doing so far.
Isco has the highest chances of playing. He has technique, skills, vision and can provide the balance that the midfield needs. He can transfer the ball from defense to attack and can create chances for the teammates. He has full freedom now and will have to prove that sitting on the bench is not for him. He came as a substitute against Malaga but his performance was far from being called good. He was moving slowly and was losing too many balls.
James Rodriguez is on the line, too. The Colombian is a shadow of himself in his best form and indifferences with Zinedine Zidane and the club directive adds fuel to the fire. However, James is an extraordinary player, we all know. It’s time to wake up from the deep sleep and start to show the game that we were witnessing in 2014.
Marco Asensio: we will talk about this young man for many years to come. Asensio is playing so good that it’s becoming a crime to make him sit on the bench. Asensio has continuously shown incredible football and amazing devotion this season. He has managed not only to provide assists and create chances but also scored many important goals. It seems, that Asensio has Zidane’s full confidence, much more confidence, that Isco and James have together.
These three issues are the main parts of the puzzle and if Zidane will manage to arrange all the details correctly, he will find the solution. We will see what he did in order to solve the puzzle just two days later in Vigo. Real Madrid have to fight till the end for a ticket to the Copa del Rey semis after losing 1-2 at home.
To finish the article with positive words, it’s worth mentioning that Gareth Bale is slowly recovering from injury and is already working with the ball. The Welsh player will do his best to be back to Real Madrid’s Champions League clash against Napoli on February 15. Looking forward to that, Zidane and his men will have to prove why they are called Real Madrid.