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Why Zidane Should Push for The Six Second Rule

A form of 'gegenpressing' or counter-pressing, the '6 Second Rule' is a tactic Madrid should add to their weaponry.

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Going forward, Madrid are one the best teams on the planet. Their offensive trident preys instinctively on poor defenses who seize possession and are disorganized, Modric and Kroos effectively stamp their authority on the game regularly, and their wing-backs in the form of Marcelo and Carvajal integrate themselves into the attacking third to expand the width of the pitch. All things said, it's really the defensive tactics that Zinedine Zidane needs to address.

One word to sum up the team's current defense: Casemiro. The Brazilian has been tasked by Zidane to fill any voids and spaces left by Madrid's adventurous ways going forward. The reality is that Los Blancos still have not signed a defensive mid (DM), regardless if his purpose is to replace Case or provide competition. God forbid Casemiro falls due to injury, Madrid will be kicking themselves knowing the world's most coveted DM's have been gobbled up without a fight.

Kroos can play an industrial DM role, but his role is more of a deep-lying playmaker as opposed to Casemiro's ball-winning method. If there is one thing that all Madrid fans know too well is that Kroos can easily be exposed with pace and athleticism. This is where Casemiro's strengths lie, not to mention his improved spatial awareness, the sheer effect of his presence protects Ramos, Pepe, and Navas.

In order to improve Madrid's tendencies off the ball, what I am proposing is something called the 'Six Second Rule.' Made famous by Pep Guardiola's Barcelona side and further developed by Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund team, the concept involves the closest-surrounding players to pounce on the opposition while supporting players become compact, thus forcing the rival into seizing possession nearly instantaneously.  The idea is in the name; try to win the ball back within six seconds of losing it.

Now I would like to be extremely clear. I am not calling for Madrid to suddenly press their opponents non-stop, regardless of the tactical set-up of the other team. Understandably it is taxing both physically and mentally. I thoroughly believe this is a tactic Madrid can add to their arsenal making them a more impressive unit.

What I envision is Madrid playing possession, even Kroos as DM, in games where they are expected to dictate play against lower level teams. Versus the bigger sides in Europe like Bayern Munich and Juventus for example, I believe a more conservative, counter-attacking approach would be best and Los Galacticos could adjust accordingly in game situations. Now in addition to the interplay between possession and counter-attacking, implementing the Six Second Rule would teach Madrid to counter-press which could be the key against rivals who are prepared to sit back and suffer, mainly Atletico-esque adversaries.

Not only does the The Six Second aid in winning the ball, the intense pressure can also help Madrid kill games early on. We saw against Manchester City what a united, fruitful press can do. Picture that happening week in and week out. This in turn would assist Madrid in notching early goals, hacking away at the opponents confidence, allowing Real to remain dominant for most of the game. Even taking this a step further, Zidane can get a rotation policy going in order to work fringe players like Jese, Kovavic, and James back into the team as long as the scoreline permits.

One of the hardest things to manage for a side used to progressing is keeping the team hungry and motivated. Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and PSG have all suffered when things became complacent, and it is important that Real Madrid learn from their mistakes. Giving the players something new to absorb will further evolve this very talented pool of players, give Zidane a real identity for his tenure, while maximizing his squad's dynamism.

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