For years, the attacking style of Real Madrid has been successful due to two reasons: a lethal front line and offensively gifted wingbacks such as Marcelo and Dani Carvajal.
During the triumphant years at the club where they obtained those three back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles, the style of play from the squad was like no other. The right and left defender were given the freedom to move up the pitch and thus helped the team move towards goal.
But, what happens when these crucial players are no longer performing at top level? In Real Madrid’s case, both Marcelo and Carvajal’s consistency levels have been questioned since last year. In recent weeks, the Brazilian has had to challenge Ferland Mendy to the starting position yet the Spaniard still maintains his place without question.
After Carvajal’s performance in Real’s 3-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, it’s time for Zinedine Zidane to take a chance and trust in his successor, Alvaro Odriozola.
So far this season, the 23-year-old has only played one match of the 2019/20 season for Los Blancos, being the opening 1-3 victory against Celta Vigo. The Spaniard was gifted the starting right back position and put on a decent performance.
He completed the most dribbles (4) and completed 44 passes, the fourth highest tally on the team behind Kroos (69), Marcelo (61) and Casemiro (51).
Considering the issue Madrid is having problems moving forward, (including registering zero shots on target for the first time in 578 games) Odriozola’s style of play could help propel the team forward. Like the vintage Carvajal, the youngster has the ability to provide assists for forwards in the box and has done so in the past.
Looking specifically at the 2018/19 season, the right-back helped edge Real Madrid to victory when starting under former head coach, Santiago Solari. Out of the 14 games he played across LaLiga, Champions League and the Copa del Rey, he contributed nine assists and one goal.
Looking at the games he often played alongside Lucas Vazquez on the right and linked up with Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Mariano Diaz, Vinicius Junior, Cristo and Vazquez, to score the goals. He also opens himself up to be fouled and is responsible for many on Ramos’ penalty opportunities.
Every single one of these players is still an attacking option up front and Odriozola could help improve the team’s scoring rate.
In terms of his own defensive capabilities, yes, Odriozola has things to work on. In this season’s game against Celta, he was bullied off the ball which lead to a goal from Brais Mendez (VAR ended up getting him out of that mess).
Being supported by the defensive capabilities of Casemiro and Raphael Varane and even Sergio Ramos if necessary could also help counter-balance Odriozola’s weaknesses.
Young players will only grow when given more opportunities to play and the eventual successor to Real Madrid’s right back position should be trusted to try and bring something to the pitch. Especially if the current player in that position is experiencing a decline, what is there to lose?