Real Madrid has some of the best midfielders in the world. But modern-day football needs quantity to compliment quality. With recent sales and growing speculation, here’s an analysis of Real Madrid’s midfield.
Real Madrid’s Midfield Analysis
Lack of Holding Midfielders
Casemiro acts as a solid holding midfielder and protects the backline, especially Marcelo. In Zidane’s first term, he was indispensable due to his quality and the lack of any like for like replacement. But his place is not so secure now. His passing leaves a lot to be desired and his ‘street smartness’ has been caught on by the referees. He should still be the first choice holding midfielder but that’s only because there’s nobody else in the Madrid squad who prefers playing in that role. Madrid has sold Marcos Llorente to city rivals Atletico Madrid and most Madrid fans aren’t thrilled by that piece of business.
Llorente was one of the few shining lights in a dismal season for Los Blancos. He was excellent in Real’s win against Roma in the Champions League. The academy graduate slotted in seamlessly for Casemiro and looked completely at home in a tough away fixture. He also provided balance to the side in most games he played. The Spaniard scored in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup and was named man of the match too. He might be sorely missed. This is highlighted by the fact that other players who may play in that position are either unsuited or inexperienced to play there. Toni Kroos is not the most defensively sound player and Federico Valverde is very young to be anchoring such an attacking side. Madrid have also sold Mateo Kovacic to Chelsea– who was the only other player who could play the ‘regista’ role.
Stockpiling Similar Midfielders
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have carried this Madrid midfield for almost five years now. They compliment one another brilliantly. They have a great reading of the game and provide control to the side, both offensively and defensively. They’re assumed to be starters under Zidane. However, deeper in the squad, Madrid is short in numbers, with minimum versatility. In theory, James Rodriguez, Isco and Dani Ceballos occupy the same space in midfield. All of them would like to play behind the striker as a 10.
James Rodriguez could almost be excluded from the list since his departure is inevitable. Napoli are frontrunners to sign the Columbian. Ceballos looks to be on the move as well. Arsenal seems like the most likely destination for the Spain U21 star. That leaves only Isco as a pure creative midfielder.
Not Enough Numbers
Real Madrid will play over 50 matches this season assuming they qualify from their Champions League group and get past the initial rounds of the cup. If the departures of Ceballos and James are assumed, Real are left with just five midfielders to consistently occupy three slots in midfield. Injuries and suspensions will also play their part. Regardless of the quality of the players, too much is expected of too little as of right now.
Real might still add to the current roster. But they seem fixated on Paul Pogba. And although that could be a great transfer in itself, Los Merengues are hopelessly short in midfield numbers right now. Madrid needs more numbers and they need them quick.