FIFA made the official announcement this week that the five substitute rule change implemented because of COVID-19 will remain until next summer. No team in Europe will benefit from this change more than Real Madrid.
Looking down the roster of Real Madrid’s first-team, it is safe to say that 90 percent of the players Zinedine Zidane has at his disposal would start for most of teams in the world. However, even high quality players like James Rodriguez, Martin Odegaard, and Eder Militao find themselves frequently on the bench.
That is all about to change now that a rule amendment initially implemented because of the coronavirus pandemic will be staying longer than expected. On Wednesday, FIFA and the International Football Association Board (IFAB) announced that the five substitute rule would last through August 2021.
Citing “player welfare” and a condensed schedule over the next 12 months, the governing body of football has done a huge service to managers and players worldwide.
This is big news for European and South American national teams since it means the European Championship and the Copa America – both of which were supposed to have just wrapped up this summer – will now have the luxury of using five substitutes in a match.
On the club landscape, this is a massive boost for Zinedine Zidane, his coaching staff, and some of Real Madrid’s fringe players.
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Players like Dani Ceballos, Sergio Reguillon, Takefusa Kubo, and several Castilla members can expect to see more playing time now with the rule staying as opposed to the usual three substitutes.
It is impossible to argue against the quality of some of these players, but they are simply further down the pecking order because of the amount of veteran experience and talent in every position.
Yet, the argument can be made the Real Madrid boss has avoided using five players off the bench since the restart to La Liga action. In fact, Zidane has used all five of substitutions in five of the nine matches played over the last month.
That is less than many would have expected and it has seen the like of Bale and James remain glued to their seats in the stands and in James’ case, his absence from the matchday squad altogether.
Players who were to be sold – maybe like Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz for example – could see their stay at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu extended by another season. Karim Benzema has been a consistent leader up front for Real Madrid since Cristiano Ronaldo left, but the number nine can not be starting 10 to 11 games in a row at the same rate come the fall.
Zidane has proved his tactical capability this season with his talented team and this rule alteration from FIFA gives the Frenchman even more firepower to work with.
Keep a close eye on Los Blancos at the start of the new campaign!