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Open Thread: February 10, 2021

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Another issue of the Daily Merengue!

Real Madrid v Getafe CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

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 or Oscnar.

Real Madrid 2 - 0 Getafe

It’s now two wins in a row for Real Madrid. The road ahead for this LaLiga season is difficult, given that they would have be nearly perfect and that the wheels would have to come off for Atletico Madrid, but there is still a ways to go. Matchday 23 of 38 is coming up this weekend.

Zinedine Zindane changed to a 3-4-3 formation with the wing-backs pushed far up as a method of adjusting, he stated after the match, to the different players coming into the lineup.

We used this system tonight to adapt to the situation, given that we’ve got a lot of players out. We managed the game well without having worked on it that much. I’m pleased for the players because they performed really well defensively. Our attitude was exemplary out there.

The extra wide players situated close to the forward line allowed the attack to function without the need of possession and build up play, because Getafe’s defense had to account for the extra wing players. This effectively removed the problem of players like Cucarella and Maksimović causing trouble by applying pressure to Real Madrid’s possession game. Mendy, Varane and Nacho were crucial in their direct, forward distribution. Getafe, for their part, did not manage a shot on goal in the first half and had difficulty grappling with the increase in possession due to Real Madrid’s tactics.

In his immediate reaction, Sam Sharpe notes that the change to the 3-4-3 system with wing-backs pushed far up allowed specifically for Marcelo to excel and for Marvin Park to feel less pressurized.

The wing-back system immediately allowed Marvin Park to calm his nerves during his first start for the senior side, and it allowed him and the more central attackers more time to make their decisions. In a fixture that has often proved to be a tricky one for Los Blanos, the players worked the system well and despite their obvious disadvantages - they began to create chances and push the opposition back. Karim Benzema forced a great save from the keeper with his head, before Luka Modrić almost benefitted from a poorer stop which dragged a low shot just wide. Marcelo operated very smoothly in this formation, and produced one of the best performances I have seen from him in months.

Emily Wilson also found that Marcelo shone in this match with the freedom he had to move from left wing-back into a central midfield position. Mendy was rated well in his debut as left center back.

Marcelo — 8.5: Absolute baller today. A wing-back on paper but dropped into centre midfield at times and pushed the team forward. Great assist for Mendy to score the second. Finished with five key passes, two shots, one dribble, one aerial and one tackle. Subbed after 86 minutes with a limp but hopefully nothing too serious.

Ferland Mendy — 8.5: Great defending today and worked well down the wing even though it was contested at times. Scored the second goal to secure the win. Finished with one shot, 98 per cent pass completion and three dribbles.

Ultra_Suristic noted the response to Marcelo’s performance:

Marco Ruiz at Marca observed that Marco Asensio’s ability to find his place behind the forward line grew as the game went on:

Marco Asensio:

Struggled to get into the game in the first half, but was much better in the second, when he understood that he needed to take up positions between the lines to have more of an attacking impact. One fine pass to Benzema, from which the Frenchman almost scored, was the perfect demonstration of this.

In their match report, Infinite Madrid noted that Marvin Park’s delivery from the right wing showed promise:

Marvin looked sharp on his first start, the teenager whipped in a delicious cross to the back-post in Cristiano Ronaldo header territory, though neither Benzema nor Casemiro took the gamble.

Marcelo’s status

Marcelo delivered one of his trademark bending, left-footed assists to Mendy but then came off with a limp in the 85th minute. Marca reports that there was “some discomfort in the left ankle” and that it’s another “setback for Zidane, who has had a tough job in managing Los Blancos’ absentees.”

The Agenda for Real Madrid

Los Blancos face off against Valencia at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium this Sunday, February 14th, at 16:15 CET / 10:15 EST.