Real Madrid: Formation To Get The Best Out of Pogba

(Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images) /

Paul Pogba seem to be the only player Real Madrid have been trying to sign this off-season. It is fair to say, Real Madrid could in fact sign Pogba this summer even though Manchester United is ready to outbid Madrid!

With Pogba eminent arrival, Zidane will have to think about tinkering his midfield and still maintain the balance needed. Zidane adopted the 4-3-3 formation last season when he took over in January. In that formation, Real Madrid were able to win La Undecima.

Zidane experimented with two different formations in Real Madrid loss against PSG. He lineup his players in the 4-4-2 formation in the first half and switched up to 4-2-3-1 in the second. Real Madrid were more dominant in the 4-2-3-1 than they were in the 4-4-2 formation.

Since zidane is flexible with his formation, having Pogba in his squad will allow him more flexibility. Real Madrid were struggling in the first half of last season without having a solid robust midfielder in the middle. With induction of Casemiro into the lineup in the second half of the season, Zidane’s team were a lot more balanced.

To keep that balance, Zidane will need to tinker with the formation when Pogba arrives. I think the formation to get the best out of Pogba is the 4-2-3-1.

I have written an article on Toni Kroos strength and weaknesses. He is a phenomenal player who’s able to excel in many positions except the center defensive midfield position as a lone anchor. In order to get the best out of Pogba while having a balanced team, Zidane will need to move Kroos into the deep-lying playmaker role.

Kroos in fact can play as deep-lying playmaker due to his ability to read, and pass the ball with pinpoint accuracy. Now, if Kroos play as a deep-lying playmaker, he will need a robust player next to him. Ideally, this player should be pogba, but that would hinder his tremendous talent in the attacking third. Also, contrary to popular believes, Pogba is actually a poor defensive player when he is limited in a role. His strength lies in his ability to roam.

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Casemiro will not start because Modric is arguably the best midfielder in the world right now. Even if Pogba were to play next to Kroos, Modric is not as good as he is as center midfielder in an attacking role. Now, the dilemma is where to play Modric. Modric can play as a box to box midfielder. He can cover a lot of ground but he isn’t a ball winner. This where the problem lies.

Real Madrid will have a lot of talent in midfield, but will lack the decisive balance needed for a great team.

How can that be fixed?


I have written about Gegenpressing in my past articles. I discussed Gegenpressing strength and weaknesses when it is not implemented in the right way. In order for Real Madrid to mask their unbalance midfield, Zidane will need to implement a pressing system. Zidane seems to be doing that as we have seen in their first preseason game against PSG. Despite the fact that it is not well done, it is still in its early adaptation.

Vertical and Horizontal Compactness!

During the game against PSG yesterday, when Real Madrid pressed they left a lot of gaps in midfield due to the lack of vertical compactness.

Midfield Rotation

Since all 3 players can play each other position’s relatively well, they can switch their position during a game to destabilized the opponent. This will allow them to be less mark, and give them the opportunity to compliment each other on both end of the field.

Defensive Unity

In order for Real Madrid to have balance, every player will need to defend without the ball. Real Madrid were able to beat a lot of good teams in the second half of this past season because they defended as a unit. When a team defend as a unit, they leave less spaces that can be exploited by the opposition.

Final thoughts

Zidane have shown to be flexible in his tactics and formation. If Paul Pogba were to come, he will figure out a way to make the team play well with balance offensively and defensively!