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Do Real Madrid Need A New Left Back?

Marcelo and Coentrao are good, but are they enough for Los Blancos?

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Brazil had a forgettable exit from the World Cup, and Portugal didn't even make it to the last 16. Dunga, Brazil's new manager, criticized Marcelo for his performances in his homeland, all but blaming the fullback for Brazil's embarrassing exit. Was there any truth to those words? Does Marcelo push too far forward and abandon his defensive duties to the detriment of the team? Or what about Coentrao? Does the Portuguese National have what it takes to make Marcelo work to keep his starting slot? If Madrid were to purchase a new left back this summer, who would it be? How would we make it worth it? We will look at these questions here.

First, Marcelo is a world class left back and fits into the team wondrously. Carletto came out and categorically described Marcelo as "definitely the best full back in the world." It's hard to argue with that. Marcelo's work rate is limitless. His ability to attack down the left hand wing gives Cristiano room to drift towards the middle, and the overload, particularly with regard to pace, is generally more than the right backs of most oppositions can handle. His crosses are usually very good, and his presence in the final third has bailed Madrid out more than once. Let's not forget that it was Marcelo's beautifully weighted ball to Di Maria that gave the Argentine the room needed to cross to Cristiano to win the Copa Del Rey a few years ago (one of my favorite Madrid goals of all time). Not to mention his "nail in the coffin" goal against Atleti in the Champion's League Final.

One of the biggest arguments against Marcelo is that his proclivity for attack leaves the team vulnerable to counters when Madrid lose the ball in the final third. In theory, Madrid's entire right hand flank (from the attacker's perspective) is going to be open, and it puts the onus too much onto Ramos to expect him to stop attacks alone. That is almost true. Having said that, Marcelo does not absentmindedly hang around the box. Rather, he delivers his crosses, and then drops back towards the center circle. His pace on counters allows him to give Los Blancos another body forward, but his discipline pulls him back towards the middle once the initial thrust of the counter has been made. Arguments that Marcelo is a defensive liability seem to fall apart when viewing film.

Fabio Coentrao, on the other hand, is a conundrum for me. I honestly cannot recall the last time that he had a game worth remembering. It's not to say that he's bad, far from it, but Marcelo has an ability to make his presence felt and intimidate defenses in a way that Coentrao simply cannot.  He is certainly not as pacey, and that handicaps him from being able to assist on counters as much as Marcelo can. Defensively he's solid, but again, nothing to write home about. Is he a good left back? Yes. Is he a world class left back that's going to challenge Marcelo for the spot in the Starting XI? Unfortunately not.

Who, though? Who could we get? I am not sure. Clearly the Sergio Ramos experiment has worked out incredibly for us. I think that Carlo and his scouts need to keep an eye on some of the more promising teenage left back prospects across Europe. Marcelo is still young, and as evidenced by his number of appearances, very happy at Madrid. Finding someone that isn't as established as Coentrao, someone that has the raw talent but needs to be embedded in Carlo's system for a while, that seems to be the best way to go.

It will be interesting to see what prospects hit the radar over the next six months, and what Carlo decides to do. Having said that, we are not frail at the left back position, and Madridistas have nothing to fear for the foreseeable future.

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