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Open Thread: October 13, 2021

Our Wednesday issue of the Daily Merengue!

Real Madrid C.F

The Open Thread/Daily Merengue is a place where you can discuss anything and everything related to football. Feel free to discuss the topics presented here, or start your very own discussions! The Open thread will be posted every day by one of the mods: Valyrian Steel, Felipejack, YoSnail, Ezek Ix or NeRObutBlanco.

Training is back at Real Madrid City

Toni Kroos’ update includes an awesome view of Dar Bouazza, Morocco

Camavinga is back to training indoors

This is very good news after some concern about the left foot bruise.

Managing Madrid member contribution

Subject: Would Mbappe actually fit well at Real Madrid? In some detail why or why not?

RMAlvin:

Mbappe fits PERFECTLY into this Real Madrid as a 2nd striker next to Benzema. I don’t worry about Vinicius or Rodrygo because Mbappe is compatible with either or both.

For Option A, Rodrygo works where manager opts for 433, and gives Madrid 3 very high IQ attackers with excellent finishing - very BBC-like if you think about it, but they lack the physicality of BBC that allowed them to out-head opponents when ground game wasn’t working, and none of the 3 are going to break lines other than through passing.

This brings you option B, where you can run with Vinicius as a LM in a 442 with the likes of Valverde or Brahim at RM - this of course has the downside of unbalanced formations and playing Valverde out of position (or sacrificing Valverde for another attacker which gives us a thin, 2-man midfield).

Option C if you’re pure evil and see neither of the Brazilians linking up with Mbappe, both get dropped in favor of a diamond midfield -downsides are no width and our FBs aren’t offensive dynamos as of late, so if there’s no through ball, there’s no joy.

I am just thinking it through from different angles.

There is a key question that comes to mind from the point of view of long-term construction. What does Kylian Mbappe bring regarding the tactical situation Real Madrid seems to face consistently in both UCL and La Liga? That situation being various forms of compact defensive structures in the oppositions’ half with the objective of denying Real Madrid channels and space through the middle — low blocks in extreme cases — and then basic counterattacking with athleticism.

Real Madrid’s touted attacking players can be on occasion neutralized in tough games by denying them room to operate. This then puts pressure on the other lines to produce and run more. We encounter difficulty to find room for runs / through balls into space. Defenses are able to get into a set facing our players and Real Madrid isn’t getting in behind. This is not an issue of midfielder personnel — we have players who are masters at breaking lines, vertical passing, hitting players making runs and carrying the ball vertically — it is one of finding space to operate as a consequence of showing certain offensive threats. The opposition has settled on tactics that mean the ball is recycled or pushed to the wings for crosses, the latter of which is not our strength without Cristiano. Mbappe’s strong suit is neither battling players inside the box nor knocking in crosses.

Teams with the ambitions of a Real Madrid must create in a variety ways to be overwhelming.

Despite not really being a penalty box predator, Mbappe would be the asset to pick up for that aim. Mbappe is clever with quick play at the feet and he is good in tight spaces, which is superb when we do need to bear down and score through a compact defense. But more crucial than that, his greatest assets are: 1. the capacity to beat any player — or a number of players — for pace and still have the control to hold the ball, 2. the ability to stretch lines and force defenders out of a compact set, 3. and the ability to make runs in behind the back line, which forces teams into defending facing their goal.

With those traits in mind and building around this dynamic, Mbappe does pair well with Real Madrid’s playmaking (future) forwards such as Brahim Diaz or Rodrygo — much like he does with Neymar. But still it has to be asked if we are thinking critically: Would a lot of his traits be neutralized by the same approach teams currently use against Real Madrid? We have in Benzema, Rodrygo and Vinicius players whose strengths against disciplined defenses actually overlap with those mentioned above. The key tactical weakness with this kind of front line is that we still don’t have anyone getting easy header goals from crosses or creating a power-direct option. And again, avoiding one-dimensionality is key for a team looking to dominate.

Pairing him not with a false 9 but with a traditional 9 could make more sense in the long term in view of the tactics teams use to thwart Real Madrid. Bring back the headed goal threat if teams are giving us the cross. We don’t find it pretty, but if it’s there use it. A traditional 9 allows a team to go direct as an opening tactical option. It functions as a method to disrupt defensive sets and set up the high press. So that is tactically where I have more questions about Mbappe / Benzema or Mbappe / Vinicius as foundational front lines.