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VIDEO: Zinedine Zidane’s Midfield Conundrum

Can Isco and James Rodríguez be the solutions or will Zidane’s tactics get in the way?

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Following an unconvincing preseason, and news that Neymar might return to Barcelona, Madridistas were in open rebellion. A win over Celta Vigo on the opening day has calmed nerves, but a somewhat unfortunate draw vs. Real Valladolid has brought on a fresh wave of anxiety and frustration.

Much of that emotion has been channeled as criticism towards Madrid’s activity in the transfer market. But, if you can find it in yourself to take a step back and breathe, it seems evident that Florentino hasn’t done all that badly this summer window.

Eden Hazard is a Ballon d’Or-caliber player who was a near-universally desired signing; Luka Jović adds some much needed goal scoring and shot production and has the potential to become world class; Ferland Mendy and Éder Militao both fill defensive needs; and Tafekuso Kubo is, potentially, a generational talent whose future once seemed intertwined with Barcelona’s.

However, that doesn’t mean that Madrid’s business has been perfect. One glaring hole lies in central midfield — a hole that has remarkably gotten bigger after the disaster that was last season — with cogs like Casemiro, Modric, and Kroos getting overrun. Fede Valverde seems to be the only true central midfield replacement, providing some interesting challenges to a manager who has largely preferred a three-man midfield for most of his time at Real Madrid.

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