It has been reported that Lucas Vazquez will be named in Real Madrid’s starting line up when they visit the Camp Nou on Saturday for the first Clásico of the season.
Los Blancos’ boss Zinedine Zidane has plenty of options both personnel and tactics-wise, and Lucas could replace the injured Gareth Bale in either a 4-4-2, or Zidane’s preferred 4-3-3.
The 25-year-old has enjoyed consecutive starts for the first time this season in the last three matches for Real, in which they’ve won all three.
Lucas won the penalty which Cristiano dispatched to open the scoring against Sporting Gijón, and almost had another assist to his name when his cross was met by Karim Benzema’s head, only for the goalkeeper to save.
The winger has not been prolific in front of goal so far this season. His one strike rounded off the resounding 5-1 win in the Champions League against Legia Warsaw. And perhaps this could be used as a big criticism. He has, though, contributed a handful of assists — the first of which allowed Sergio Ramos to nod home the winner in the European Super Cup final against Sevilla.
His goalscoring prowess is something that will develop as time goes by - especially with the other prolific talents around him which he will undoubtedly learn from.
For me, Lucas has shown that he is confident in other areas of his game. His assists show that he has faith in his ability to beat his man with a piece of trickery and a burst of pace, and then pick out a team mate with an accurate ball.
And the examples I mentioned from the Sporting Gijón match epitomize this. As do his two assists against Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey. Dribbling with pace and skill were key components of his assist for Marco Asensio, before a pin-point whipped cross saw Mariano Diaz bag the 7th goal of the night.
With Bale usually on the right and Cristiano on the left of Real’s usual front three, they both seek to cut in field onto their ‘favoured’ feet. With Lucas on the right, it offers Real an outlet to stretch their opponent’s defensive lines, freeing space for Modric and co. to run in to, and to exploit the wider areas.
As we’ve seen, the Spaniard is adept at crossing from out-wide, or causing his marker headaches by darting inside.
On the defensive side, his work rate must also be applauded.
On the left with Cristiano cutting infield, and Marcelo looking to exploit the space this then affords him, there’s usually a lot of space for opposition to try and take advantage of on the counter. Something the likes of Barcelona will do ruthlessly.
If Marcelo is caught up-field, usually the defence shuffle across to accommodate, and Lucas tucks in to cover Dani Carvajal, who has gone to cover his right sided centre back.
Both elements should be important factors on Saturday, as Jordi Alba will look to double up on Carvajal with Neymar, and as such, the right back will need protection.
I think Lucas has definitely earned the opportunity to start this fixture, and I’m looking forward to seeing him battle it out against his countryman Alba. It could be the most pivotal battle as Real seek to widen the six point gap between them and their fiercest rivals this weekend.