Real Madrid’s Options In Attack For The Present And Future

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Alejandro Rios/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Alejandro Rios/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

The last of a trilogy of articles discussing the present and future of each Real Madrid position group.

Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here.

Real Madrid have been making smart investments in young, talented football players for around six years now, ever since Neymar Jr slipped out of Florentino Perez’s hands. FC Barcelona got to avail Neymar’s services for five years. This taught Perez a lesson: Never miss out on a Neymar again.

Out of all the youngsters with high ceilings that were bought by ‘Los Blancos’ in recent years, most of them are attackers. Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo Goes, Reinier Jesus, Luka Jovic, and Takefusa Kubo are just some of the players Real Madrid have that possess insane amounts of talent waiting to be unlocked. That’s why it will be so intriguing to see how it looks when the project starts coming into fruition.



The best way I can explain the abundance of left-wingers that Real Madrid have is this: If the club doesn’t spend another buck on wingers for the next 10 years, they still wouldn’t have a problem (given they keep the players they currently have in that position). Real are ridiculously stacked in this position.

Too much depth can sometimes be a problem, though. It all depends on which player has the patience and the itch to play for Real Madrid the most. Zinedine Zidane still has Eden Hazard as an option, and he will be more than looking forward to this season considering how poor and unfortunate the last one was for him individually, starting off really well with a spectacular 25-yard screamer against Huesca.

Eden will be 30 this season and should be a “starter” for around three to four years (more on him later). In his position is a human fireball named Vinicius Jr — one of Perez’s most prized possessions. Towards the twilight of that period, we will be able to see Vinicius starting to turn into the player everyone perceived him to be.

That will be the time where the Brazillian wunderkind slowly acquires the leftwing spot in the starting lineup if all goes well. The future is in good hands because Vinicius really is a gem. It seems like everything will probably go well with him. He has evident aspects to improve on, but he will get there.

As for the present, this is the season of Hazard’s revival.

Last season was really tough for Hazard. He rightfully stated that it was the worst season of his career. Coming to pre-season training overweight was the worst start he could’ve had. When he finally showed signs of the brilliant Eden Hazard we know and love, Thomas Meunier gave him his biggest setback of recent memory when Madrid played PSG in the group stage of last season’s Champions League. His foul on Hazard in the 64th minute broke his ankle — something which took him a year of his career to recover from. This season will be vital for him, as he’ll be looking forward to proving that the real Hazard is still in there.

Real Madrid, Rodrygo Goes, Zinedine Zidane
Real Madrid, Rodrygo Goes, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /


On 24 July 2019, Marco Asensio was carried off the FedEx Field in a friendly game against Arsenal. Tests were carried out, and it was confirmed that his Anterior Cruciate Ligament was ruptured, which is probably the worst injury that could happen to a footballer. It felt even more unfortunate since Asensio looked like a man with a purpose. He was giving out 2016/17 vibes in the preseason. He looked hungry and desperate to return to his peak form.

More from The Real Champs

It wasn’t meant to be, though. His injury left Zinedine Zidane with quite a pickle: who should start on the right-wing? Well, maybe he could go for the diamond and start Isco. But what if the Spanish midfielder isn’t in good form, or, if he gets injured?

Even if Gareth Bale was available, Zidane wouldn’t use the Welshman that often. Lucas Vazquez, well — is he really good enough? Probably not. Vinicius Jr? Not great on the right, not yet.

Enter Rodrygo Goes.

Rodrygo is a great two-way presence. Defensively he was great last season. He always covers for Dani Carvajal when he plays on the right-wing, and helps the team out at the back. He also averaged 16.05 pressures per game in all competitions, and, as we saw against Manchester City, he is aware enough to stay put defensively when needed.

Rodrygo has the potential to become a world-class player with the proper guidance and training regime. His game is beyond his age. It simply doesn’t look like he’s just 18 years old. His decision making in the final third is great. Moreover, his brilliant pass-and-move plays will continue to catch defenders off guard for years to come, which generates space for him to move and demonstrate his attacking prowess. He is still inconsistent, like most youngsters, but that should and will change with time and experience.

One problem is that he is a right-footed winger playing on the right flank. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it limits his offensive production to an extent. It doesn’t allow him to cut inside with his strong foot, something he’s so good at. We don’t get to see him do that often. Rodrygo will likely have to play on the right under Zidane. In the limited minutes that he has had as a left-winger, though, he scored two goals out of six cutting inside from the left last season. One is on his La Liga debut vs Osasuna.

The other was a pass and move sequence with Karim Benzema vs Galatasaray on his Champions League debut.

All in all, Rodrygo has proven to be a great addition to Real Madrid’s stagnant offence. He is a brilliant, line breaking winger, who can and will terrorize opponents for years to come, and maybe even become a future Ballon d’Or contender.

He would still have to fight someone for the spot, though.

Marco Asensio finally returned from his injury in June after months and months of continuous physiotherapy. He and Real Madrid’s medical staff were patient with his recovery, and it paid off: Marco returned (the lockdown helped a lot since he got two months of recovery time without missing a single game) and has been great ever since. He scored a goal with his first touch in nearly a year later against Valencia. A few minutes afterward, he laid the ball off to Karim Benzema for a beautiful finish. It was a wholesome moment for everyone related to Real Madrid; seeing a player who has suffered so much the past year play this well in his first game back is something you don’t get to see very often.

Now, finally, he is fully fit and is keen to become a definite starter for Real Madrid. He’s been decent so far, but he needs to improve and show more consistency as the season goes on, if he really wants that spot. Zidane has already, through his last couple of lineups, shown that he prefers having Asensio and Hazard on the wings. It’s time for the Spaniard to repay his faith.

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images) /


Karim Benzema is very good at the game of football. That’s the simplest way I can put it. He is a brilliant player who has been a mainstay in Real Madrid’s attack for 11 years now. To achieve a feat like that at a club as gigantic and even ruthless as Real Madrid is astonishing. He seems to improve with each season even at the age of 32. He proved each one of his doubters wrong after his underwhelming 2017-18 campaign. It’s actually a bit concerning how much dependent Real Madrid’s offence is on Karim. He is the one dropping deep to start attacks and he is the one finishing them. Hopefully, with Hazard back in the lineup, that will change.

The Frenchman was at the top of the team in minutes played last season. If it weren’t for the suspension of the season due to the Covid pandemic, he probably would’ve burned out because of playing as much as he did. He was directly involved in 38% of Real Madrid’s goals in the past two seasons. He needs a break every now and again.

Even though Luka Jovic hasn’t been able to settle in, there can be a few options Zidane can consider if that continues to be the case for another year, which, seems like it will be, considering how Jovic didn’t even get a chance to come off the bench and get a goal for his confidence’s sake against a tired Huesca side.

As for Zidane’s other options, he can go for Rodrygo or Marco Asensio in the middle in a false nine role. Rodrygo has played as a false nine for Santos in the past and he has done the job well. He links up well with the midfield and attack, makes good runs and usually scores a bunch of goals. He is also an underrated finisher, although there are things to improve in every aspect of his game.

As for Asensio, we have seen him play there for Real Madrid in the past and he has done fairly well (most recently in a friendly against Juventus in 2018). Although the sample size isn’t big enough for either of them, it will be something Zidane can try out if he wants more options.

Luka Jovic’s first season was not satisfactory, by any means. He struggled to adapt to his new surroundings and an entirely new brand of football — scoring just two goals in all competitions last season. He didn’t play much; not only because of Karim’s fantastic record in front of goal but also because of how much the Frenchman helps in the buildup. Jovic is just not the same type of player as Benzema. He is an out-and-out lethal scorer, while Benzema does a lot of other things: create, drop deep to support the midfield, and help the team escape the press.

Moreover, it’s ‘normal’ to have a bad first season if you’re a striker that makes such a big jump in the quality and strength of the opponents. That stumbling block becomes even more difficult to leap over when you’re a youngster from a different country. To play well at a club of Real Madrid’s stature can be a very demanding and tough thing to do. And with everything that went down (or didn’t) this past transfer window, life’s probably pretty tough if your name is Luka Jovic.

Next. Real Madrid's 5 Most Valuable Players Of The Last Decade. dark

Even after all this, Jovic still can be a success at Real Madrid. He has age on his side, so, given ‘Los Blancos’ are patient with him, he can turn the tide. The talent is there, of course. He just needs time to fully settle in. And a scheme that can integrate him the best way. Once that happens, God help us all.