Real Madrid: Asensio is going to be vital for success in 2020-21

Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images) /

Marco Asensio will be vital to Real Madrid this season.

Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham Hotspurs has led to the emergence of a familiar face at Real Madrid in a new number- Marco Asensio, who will wear the Welshman’s No. 11 jersey.

Real Madrid started the defense of their La Liga title at Real Sociedad with a draw there were several takeaways from the season opener. The defense picked up from where they had left off, putting in a solid performance, especially from Raphael Varane. The Frenchman performed at the levels we have seen him do so for years, a welcome response to his Eithad debacle.

However, the goalless draw brought back questions about the attack that seemed to have been carried over from last season. The lack of a proper pre-season in which Real Madrid played just one match against Getafe meant that preparation for the season opener was done mostly in training.

Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, Karim Benzema has been the most notable contributor to the attack in terms of goals. Last season itself, Sergio Ramos had been the only other player to reach double figures in terms of goals, scoring 13. The lack of goals has been a conundrum that Real Madrid will have to sort if the team is to compete across all fronts and especially for a deep run in the Champions League.

It is too early in the season to write off the attack though, more so because of the absence of Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio (two key individuals who are central to Zidane’s plans). Last season had been a season to forget for Marco Asensio as his injury during the pre-season meant that he missed major parts of the season. The Spanish international however completed a fairy tale return from injury as Real Madrid went on to clinch the title in style.

Zidane has turned to Brazilian prospect Rodrygo to play on the right due to Marco Asensio’s absence and he did so against Real Sociedad too, the youngster has looked out of place on the right flank, rendering him ineffective most of the time and nullifying his attacking traits. Although Zidane also has the option of playing Martin Odegaard on the right, the first choice seems to be Marco Asensio when fit, as the Norwegian international is more likely to play in the midfield.

One of the keys to revamping the attack is ensuring that Karim Benzema is not the solitary goal-scoring threat in the front line. As exemplified by his goal against Valencia, Marco Asensio has a keen eye for goal. Starting him on the right as an inverted winger allows him to run at defenders with ease, whilst cutting inside and shooting when the chance presents itself. Marco Asensio’s movement will also allow him to cut inside and play a pass while creating space to position himself inside the penalty area, closer to the goal.

Marco Asensio is an upgrade on Real Madrid’s right wing

Marco Asensio’s ability to slide in between the central defender and full back rather than being forced wide presents a better chance for the fullback to make an overlapping run. Playing as an inverted winger allows Real Madrid’s new No. 11 to make diagonal runs with the ball on his stronger left foot and create the angle for passes/crosses into the final third and not just act as a one-trick pony.

An inverted winger can be used as a multifaceted attacking outlet both in terms of being a provider as well as a goal threat. Karim Benzema has time and again showed that he is not an orthodox striker, instead, the French striker loves to get involved in the buildup by dropping deep and playing passes to create opportunities.

The Real Madrid No. 9 has also shown his adeptness at drifting wide, which allows the winger to occupy the space created, as his link-up with Hazard has shown. The Belgian would often drift inside to take up the space created by Karim’s movement. His ability to drag defenders would allow Marco Asensio to come into the central areas and run at the defenders with his purposeful dribbling skills. His incisive passing range can help create passing opportunities or find players who can make runs behind the defense from the opposite flank.

Zidane has always preferred versatile players in attack as it opens up numerous attacking possibilities and combinations for the player over the course of 90 minutes. A dynamic trio of Hazard, Benzema, and Asensio could pop up in various positions constantly, keeping opposition defenders on their toes.

Next. What should we expect from Dani Ceballos this season?. dark

One hopes Marco Asensio puts his injury woes behind him in what is going to be an important season for him. The Spaniard’s return to training is a welcome sight after the lackluster performance against Real Sociedad, and Real Madrid fans hope that he can write a new chapter in the history of the No. 11 at Madrid.