Real Madrid visit Barcelona’s Camp Nou after losing their last two games against Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk in dramatic fashion. Los Blancos need to step up and compete much better than they did in those two matches in order to have a chance at winning, but what are the main issues they need to fix?
- Madrid’s pressing needs to be back. It’s been a weakness so far this season and one of the main reasons why the defensive stability isn’t there anymore. Casemiro and the four defenders are often too exposed because the attackers and the central midfielders are not pressing efficiently, something which hit rock bottom in the first half against Shakhtar. This could be even more important against Barcelona, who have the quality in the midfield to create chance after chance if they are given room and time to operate.
- Offensively, Real Madrid must have a plan. Luckily enough for Los Blancos, Barcelona won’t be expected to sit back and defend, a strategy which is particularly tough to beat for Zidane’s men. Still, Madrid will have to prove that they can be a threat when they counterattack and that’s probably why Vinicius, Asensio and Benzema should start upfront. They are Madrid’s most dangerous players in transition and could hurt Barcelona. However, Real Madrid will also need to find a way through if Barcelona manage to get the lead and then decide to defend and not take too many risks. It’s time for Los Blancos to prove that they can be an efficient time offensively.
- The right-back puzzle is tough to solve for Madrid. Ferland Mendy looked uncomfortable in that position against Shakhtar, both on offense and defense. Furthermore, Marcelo would be required to start on the left wing if Mendy is the right-back, and Marcelo has not been reliable so far this season. On the other hand, Nacho could also be a liability against Ansu Fati. Nacho has defensive awareness but Fati is extremely quick and mobile, so it will be important for Nacho to get help from his teammates if he’s the one starting. All in all, expect Nacho featuring as the team’s right-back with Valverde helping him from the midfield. That would allow Mendy to play on the left side of the defensive line.