Sporting Gijón 2 – 3 Real Madrid: Three Takeaways from the La Liga Match

(Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
(Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images)
(Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images) /

Is the Full-Back Depth Problem at Madrid Overblown?

One of the questionable elements of Madrid’s squad depth is the full-back position. While Madrid have two of the best full-backs in the world in Dani Carvajal and Marcelo, their replacements on the bench don’t share their star qualities.

Although Fabio Coentrao has previously proven a competent substitute for Marcelo on the left (like when his focused performance against Bayern in the semifinals of the Champions League in 2014 lead ESPN FC to call him “‘Big Game’ Fabio Coentrao.”), he has barely been used by Zidane, making only 4 appearances across all competitions, according to Whoscored. Indeed, he’s been so out of form and plagued by injuries, that he himself admitted he wasn’t fit to play for the club.

Similarly, Danilo has had a less than convincing season. speculates  that Danilo might be the worst Real Madrid signing of all time, backing it up with all sorts of interesting statistics, like:

"Zinedine Zidane’s side have won just seven of their 13 matches with Danilo in the team in 2016-17, a win percentage of just 53.8%. Without the Brazilian, meanwhile, Los Blancos have triumphed in 15 of their 20 games this term – a success rate of 75%."

Indeed, his terrible performances this season included scoring two own goals in two weeks, a hapless feat which helped knock Madrid out of the Copa Del Rey. He’s been so bad that many, including The Real Champ’s own Ben Sundock, have called for his transfer out of the club.

It’s no wonder, then, that many balked at the idea of playing both Coentrao and Danilo in a must-win match in the La Liga title race. Yet the back-up full-backs didn’t disappoint. Coentrao was not particularly stunning going forward, and misplaced a number of crosses.

But nevertheless, he didn’t make any glaring errors and seemed competent and composed. You could not tell that he had barely played any minutes for Madrid this season.

GIJON, SPAIN – APRIL 15: Danilo and Sergio Alvarez (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
GIJON, SPAIN – APRIL 15: Danilo and Sergio Alvarez (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /

Danilo also put in a strong 90 minutes, demonstrating signs of why he was originally brought in for a substantial sum from Porto. His assist for Morata’s goal was delivered with pinpoint accuracy. He made 4 key passes, 5 tackles, and 2 interceptions, according to WhoScored. Not bad for “worst transfer ever” material.

It would probably still be good for Real Madrid to go out and sign a stronger full-back replacement. But there were signs of life from Marcelo and Carvajal’s deputies today, signs that are sure to be welcome by Zidane as Madrid continue to fight across two competitions.