How to Fix Real Madrid in 3 Realistic Steps
By: Xavier Castro (@SportsXavi)
I think I speak for every Madridista when I say that Real Madrid are having another frustrating season. The highs of this year show us that we have the potential to reclaim the throne as the best club in Europe, like we were for nearly from 2013-2018. The lows, however, have made us look like we should not even be considered in the upper tier of world football. It seems to be that there is no middle ground and there is no hope in sight for consistency.
I am here to tell you, there is hope, and that it is much closer than you might think.
Now being the global powerhouse that Madrid is, it is not a outlandish statement to say that the club will just buy the hottest player on the market. This is article will not just be one of those speculation articles but rather discuss 3 “quick fixes” that can be done right now to improve the shape of the squad.
1st – Bring back Martin Ødegaard from Real Sociedad Loan
This midfield is in need of a shakeup, to say the absolute least. The years of setting and forgetting Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in the lineup are far gone. With the lose of the of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer of 2018, there has never been that consistent threat on the attacking end of Madrid. The linkup play has just not been there with our wingers for many reasons. Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, and Marco Asensio have had multiple injuries throughout the year. The pair of Modric and Kroos, which coach Zinedine Zidane seems to love, have been incredibly disappointing time and time again. Finally, when the upcoming star Federico Valverde is not in the lineup, the tempo and control of the game is completely lost. We need a talent like Ødegaard to fix this.
Ødegaard is averaging an 85% percent passer rating as an attacking midfielder for Real Sociedad. Time after time the Norwegian wonder boy has made key passes in big moments. Take the game that Ødegaard started against Real Madrid on 11/13/2019. Martin has an exceptional game completing 49 of 57 attempted passes and racking up 3 key passes while doing so. This Madrid owned player came into the club with enormous expectations as a 15 year old in 2015. Ødegaard is now primed for his shot on the main stage of this club when his loan stout ends in June. Bring back the wonder boy and let him run his play-making magic in the midfield for Los Blancos. This should spark multiple opportunities for our struggling wingers.
2nd – Stop Playing with a False Nine Formation
During the previous summer, Madridistas were all excited for the signing of Luka Jovic. Here comes in what seems to be the heir apparent of Karim Benzema, finally. This signing has not even sniffed expectations and not to the young players’ blame. This falls completely on Zizo’s shoulders and his poor ability to change his tactics of previous years. Zidane cannot change his affinity for the false nine role that relies solely on the form of Benzema. Understand me clearly here, Benzema is a legend and has put up a myriad of great performances for the club throughout his tenure, BUT, with the departure of Ronaldo there is simply not enough attention drawn away from Benzema for him to operate. We do not have the attacking presence to cover for Karim when he will inevitably drops back into the midfield to
provide some build up play. This along with the void of an aerial threat, which Benzema has never been good at, leaves us in a huge hole for the cross happy formation we are currently run.
While the defense has been immensely better than previous years due to the defensive minded formation, there has been a notable cost on the offensive side. The goals are not coming when Benzema is not in superior form. If Madrid moves to a more open midfield that allows players like Isco, who is having an impressive year, and maybe even James Rodriquez to play to their strengths, then hopefully we should see a swing in production. This would allow for Zidane to experiment more with Jovic and let him play his more natural role, rather than asking him to drop back in the false 9 role which clearly is more suited for Benzema.
3rd – Let the Youngsters Run Free
Madrid currently have 3 young studs that are in need of more consistent minutes. These players show huge upside on a veteran filled team that appears to be slowing down. Not only do some show strong and consistent outings, but some show flashes of absolute stardom. Below are the 3 youngsters and what their role should be.
This Uruguayan stud has been nothing short of spectacular. I praise Zidane for giving Fede a more prominent role in the squad, having 32 appearances already this year. I believe, it is time to think of Fede as a lock for an everyday starter though. He brings the motor that Madrid needs. Not only does Fede have a great defensive work rate, but he provides a significant problem for opposing defenses on the attack. This man is ready to take ownership of the midfield and make it his own.
I’ll be the first to admit it. He has not been perfect this year, but we all need to cut the young 19 old some slack. This young Brazilian can be a Neymar-esk player. While he does have a lot more room for growth to be a consistent threat on the wing, Vinicius has the potential to be a world class player. Unfortunately for the youngster, when the summer signee Eden Hazard comes back, he will have to take a backseat to the Belgian. Which for the time being, is the correct move. Vinicius should be a rotational player earning spot starts but should be a top option for substitution, as his pace and offensive prowess continues to haunt opposing defenses.
It pains me to say that this season has been rough for LB Marcelo. His lack of offensive production leaves the defense vulnerable from the flank to the point of no return. With Marcelo losing a step of what made Madrid so special in previous years, it seems like it is time to start playing his successor, Mendy. Now, with Mendy, we have to make it clear that he is not Marcelo. Ferland shows great signs of potential. While he wont completely sell out for the attack, he is definitely not scared to join them. Mendy at this stage is also more of an athlete the Marcelo is, which can be used as the defense of Los Blancos continues to age. Mendy is in a great spot to win over the constant starting spot as soon as next year.