So far this season, Real Madrid has been struck by the usual number of early-season injuries. Zidane has had the luxury of a very deep squad to cover for Kroos, Kovacic, Marcelo, Benzema, et al. He's even been able to play a more-than-capable Nacho as third-choice left back when Theo went down.
And the squad depth hasn't just been utilized for injuries. Deep rotations in mid-field and the attacking line in particular have meant fresh legs for most of the squad as Isco, Asensio, Modric, Casemiro, and even Llorente have rotated in and out.
But one position Zidane has been reluctant to provide relief for is right back.
Poor Dani Carvajal has played more minutes than any other Real Madrid player this season.
And it's starting to show.
Or has it?
Why Zidane hasn't given Carvajal a rest
It's no lie that we have some crazy-talented youth on our squad this year. So much so, that we don't even blink any more when Asensio fights for a starting spot at age 21, Dani Ceballos scores two on his debut at age 21, and our starting old-soul center back is a whopping 24. And that's not even mentioning Llorente or Theo who've seen some minutes at ages 22 and 19 respectively.
But, all these players have seen some serious big-leagues playing time leading up to the season. We brought some back from loan and purchased others, but they have all had experience in top-tier futball.
That is, with the exception of young Achraf Hakimi.
This kid, while showing some sparks of potential, is about as green as they come. And it's no wonder that given our shaky starty to La Liga, and the significance of our UCL matches, he hasn't seen any playing time. As a result, I don't see Zidane giving him much of a look until the early rounds of the Copa del Rey, or later on in the match of a blowout.
I'd also be willing to bet that we would have seen Nacho in at right back for a spell had it not been for both of our left backs going down at the same time.
So, poor Dani has had to struggle through match after match with no reprieve.
Carvajal is tired and needs rest, but he's been doing quite well considering
The eye-test might not exactly agree, and I think we'd all wholeheartedly agree that Carvajal hasn't started out this season in his best form, but aside from his mind-boggling, impossibly selfish decision nine minutes into the Dortmund match to not cross to an open Ronaldo for a sitter, he's actually been performing quite solidly.
Just in case you needed a reminder - 25 seconds in to this clip.
In spite of all that, he's leads the team in blocked shots, is second only behind Casemiro in tackles, third in interceptions, and fourth in the squad in dribbles.
Every other stat he's somewhere right in the middle.
Now granted, he's been caught getting back at times, and has been dispossessed more frequently than usual, but I think we get spoiled and forget that our 25 year-old right back is probably one of the top-five if not top-three in that position in the world.
All this being said, Zidane does need to figure something out. Mostly because fatigue is only going to cause poorer form, and, most importantly, if they aren't careful, open Dani up to be much more susceptible to injury.
Until Marcelo or Theo are fit again, I'm not sure what choice Zizou has, but I don't see it being in the form of young Achraf.
You're Zidane - how do you give Carvajal a much-needed rest, or don’t you and just hope for the best?